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  Grave Matters: Green Gates Farm, Lexington, Kentucky

Photos by Liz Martiniak © Liz Martiniak 2003; all rights reserved.

Green Gates Lion Circle
Eight Thirty
Miss Dogwood
Gold Digger
Turn To

GREEN GATES FARM was until recently a division of Spendthrift Farm and known by it's earlier name, "Old Kenney Farm." Old Kenney Farm was owned by George D. Widener, and was once part of the Elmendorf Stud of Joseph E. Widener. Here G.D. Widener stood the juvenile champion St. James and raised homebreds Jamestown (champion 2-year-old, by St. James), High Fleet (champion 2-year-old filly), Eight Thirty (champion handicapper), and Jack High. Eight Thirty, a very successful sire (sire of Sailor, Bolero, Make Tracks, Rare Perfume, Sunday Evening, etc.) remained on the property after it was sold to Leslie Combs II of Spendthrift Farm in 1962, along with another Widener runner and sire, Yorktown. The Widener burials are in the Lion's Circle cemetery.

According to Liz Martiniak, "There were some markers near a Barn 15 that was torn down and replaced with a new broodmare barn. The graves were on what was called Linden Lane" near the old/new barns. Said to be buried near the old barn were stallions *Royal Charger, *Alibhai, *Tudor Era, *Bernborough, *Shannon II, and Armageddon; and broodmares Busher, Anchors Aweigh, Miss Dogwood, *Source Sucree, Crepe Myrtle, Miss Request, and Siama. "A lot of the markers were lost and several of these stones were destroyed when the old barn was demolished and the new one built. Any loose markers were then dumped in the Lion's Circle and set up there, even though the horses' graves were elsewhere."

*Royal Charger was imported in 1951 from Ireland as an already successful sire and continued as a good sire in America. His son *Turn-to was from his last Irish crop and was imported as a yearling to race for Capt. Harry F. Guggenheim's Cain Hoy Stable. (Guggenheim later imported *Turn-to's dam, *Source Sucree.) Guggenheim also owned Armageddon, a good stakes winner and sire, as well as the mares Anchors Aweigh (dam of Never Bow, Make Sail, Sheet Anchor), and Siama (dam of champion Bald Eagle, One-Eyed King, and Dead Ahead). Siama was the KTOB Broodmare of the Year in 1960.

*Alibhai was purchased by Combs for $500,000 from L.B. Mayer and brought to Kentucky from California as a proven sire in 1946. (Combs had also purchased Mayer's stallion *Beau Pere, who died at Spendthrift in 1947 before covering any mares.) *Bernborough was a champion from Australia who was a good sire here. *Shannon II was another good Aussie who raced with much success as at 7 in America and was a decent sire. *Tudor Era was imported and became one of America's first top grass champions in the 1950s.

The great champion and Kentucky Derby winner Swaps was also buried in the Lions Circle at Green Gates, but his remains were moved to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Miss Dogwood and Crepe Myrtle were daughters of Spendthrift's foundation mare, Myrtlewood. Miss Dogwood produced Sequence, Bernwood, Bella Figura, and Amiga. Sequence (see grave above) was the dam of Gold Digger (see grave above), dam of the great sire Mr. Prospector by the Spendthrift stallion Raise A Native. Crepe Myrtle produced the stakes winner Myrtle Charm, who was sold to Elizabeth Arden Graham, a Spendthrift client and also owner of the 1945 Horse of the Year Busher. Myrtle Charm was the dam of Myrtle's Jet, Never Give In, and the modest filly Fair Charmer, who became the granddam of Seattle Slew. Busher, also a Spendthrift resident mare (her grave is now unmarked) was the dam of the good colt Jet Action.

The Bieber-Jacobs stable was another important boarding client for Spendthrift, and owned the mares Affectionately and Straight Deal both buried here. Affectionately was the co-champion 2-year-old filly of her year and Champion Handicap mare when a 5-year-old. She became the dam of Preakness winner and Champion 3-year-old of 1970, Personality. Straight Deal was an extremely rugged race mare and Champion Handicap Mare at 5. She produced the good daughters Desiree, Reminiscing, and Belonging.

Besides those now unmarked near old Barn 15, the graves at Green Gates are located within the hedges the mark the circle on the farm road known as the Lion's Circle. The lions marked the entrance to the huge "Green Hills" mansion that was torn down by J.E. Widener in the early 1900s. Liz notes that the markers for "Affectionately, Straight Deal, Gay Hostess, and Gold Digger are a little off the Lion's Circle" and arranged along a nearby fenceline. The markers were found in a pile and moved here, so are not marking the mares' graves.

The pillars that mark the front portico of the Green Hills mansion are still standing on Elmendorf Farm. The majority of the most famous Spendthrift stallions are buried near the main stallion barn on Spendthrift Farm. -- A.P.

Old Kenney/Widener-era burials
Eight Thirty (c. 1936-1965)
Jamestown (c. 1928-1953)
St. James (c. 1921-1943)
Yorktown (c. 1957-1968)
Armada (f. 1924-1944)
Dinner Time (f. 1929-1952)
Evening (f. 1929-1948)
Evening Belle (f. 1945-1967)
High Fleet (f. 1933-1952)
Last Straw (f. 1918-1940)
Mideau (f. 1942-1967)
Salacia (f. 1921-1942)
Tatanne (f. 1931-1953)
Tedmelia (f. 1935-1958)
Spendthrift-era burials
Alibhai (c. 1938-1960; unmarked)
Armageddon (c. 1949-1972; unmarked)
Bernborough (c. 1939-1959; unmarked)
Requested (c. 1939-1969)
Royal Charger (c. 1942-1961; stone moved and grave now unmarked)
Seaneen (c. 1954-1972)
Shannon II (c. 1941; unmarked)
Swaps (c. 1952-1972; stone marker moved to Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville, grave now unmarked)
Tudor Era (c. 1953; unmarked)
Turn-to (c. 1951-1973)
Affectionately (f. 1960-1979)
Amiga (f. 1947-1977)
Anchors Aweigh (f. 1949-1968)
Busher (f. 1942-1955; unmarked)
Cantadora II (f. 1957-1983)
Egret (f. 1961-1979)
Francine M. (f. 1964-1977)
Gay Hostess (f. 1957-1976)
Gold Digger (f. 1962-1990)
Lady Tramp (f. 1965-1980)
Masked Lady (f. 1964-1981)
Miss Dogwood (f. 1939-1968)
Miss Fleetwood (f. 1954-1977)
Miss Request (f. 1945; unmarked)
Sequence (f. 1946-1977)
Siama (f. 1947; unmarked)
Source Sucree (f. 1940-1968)
Straight Deal (f. 1962-1982)

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