19th century thoroughbred breeding, bloodstock history, glencoe, lexington, physical description of lexington, the thoroughbred record, thoroughbred history
An outstanding racehorse who set records racing four-mile heats, Lexington had the combination of athletic talents that allowed his offspring to bridge the transition from long-distance heat racing to modern dash races decided in a single heat.
Especially when combined with some of the top-caliber broodmare sires, such as Glencoe, Lexington transformed his superior heat-racing qualities of ruggedness and quick recovery into fleet expressions of single-heat success.
As a result, the bay son of Boston led the American sires list 16 times and died as one of the most renowned stallions in the breed. His genetic legacy is the foundation of every American pedigree of the late 19th century and early 20th. Even today, Lexington is there in the far reaches of many pedigrees.
In an unsigned obituary from The Thoroughbred Record of 9 July 1875, probably by BG Bruce, we read that
Lexington was a blood bay, fifteen hands three inches high, with four white feet extending over the pastern joints; his head, though not small, was clean, bony and handsome — his nostrils being large, the jawbone uncommonly wide, and the jaws wide apart, affording abundant room for a clear and well detached throttle. His bones were not particularly large except the backbone, which was immensely so. His neck rose well from his shoulders and joined his head admirably. His shoulders were wide and well placed, particularly oblique, and rising well at the withers. His back was of medium length, coupling well back; a loin wide, slightly arched and very powerful. His body was large, round and full, being ribbed in the best possible manner, very deep through the heart, which made his legs look short. His hips were not remarkably wide, though strong. His arms were not large, and his second thigh [gaskin] was peculiarly light and thin, and to our eye, was his greatest defect. His feet and legs were small and clean, with tendons large and strong as catgut. His action was superb — bold, free, elastic, and full of power.
From this description, allied with photos and paintings of the horse, it is clear that Lexington a medium-sized, scopy, well-balanced animal with considerable power, although noted as lacking a really powerful gaskin. That last betrays his heritage as a thorough distance racer, and doubtless the great broodmare sire Glencoe, who is described as having an exceptional gaskin, provided some benefit to Lexington’s sons and daughters in that regard too.
Lexington was sent to stud in 1855 at WF Harper’s farm near Midway, Ky., and near the middle of 1856, RA Alexander bought the young stallion from owner Ten Broeck for $15,000. Thereafter, Lexington stood at Alexander’s Woodburn Stud until his death on 1 July 1875.