Kentucky is famous for its horse farms. In
the Central Kentucky region of the state there are numerous horse farms
that include stately historic homes and miles of stone walls or white
fences. Drive in any direction in Fayette, Woodford, Bourbon, or Jessamine
counties and you will more than likely run into a horse farm of some
sort. There are also smaller operations without all of the fancy trappings.
The horse racing industry contributes about 75,000 jobs and $5 billion
dollars to the economy of Kentucky.
As the center of the world Thoroughbred horse industry, Lexington
is where the world’s top racehorses are bred, born, trained, officially
registered, bought and sold, retired and buried. And it’s been
that way since before there even was a Kentucky Derby. In fact, in 1789
according to the census there were more horses than people in Lexington.
The thoroughbred industry in Kentucky really took off during the
Civil War, when horse breeders in Maryland, the Carolinas and Virginia
their horses "west" for safety. They discovered that their
horses thrived in the Bluegrass, thanks to the rich lime content of
the soil, the gently rolling terrain and the favorable weather conditions.
By the 1930s, the Lexington Herald-Leader had a standing offer to give
subscribers free papers on any day that no horse bred within a 50-mile
radius of Lexington won a race at a major track – an event
that no one can remember ever happening. The offer is no longer
if it were, there would still be no free papers.