When trainer Kenny McPeek purchased Magdalena Farm in 2006, it admittedly was a bit of an ‘impulse' buy.
McPeek had just returned from Australia, where he visited several trainers who operated their own farms where they trained and conditioned their horses. McPeek has set up that type of operation in Lexington, on the acreage he purchased shortly after returning home from that Australian trip.
McPeek knew some of the land's history at the time, but as he told the Lexington Herald-Leader's Tom Eblen, he was surprised to learn just how significant those 115 acres that he bought were. McPeek was aware of much of the farm's recent history – the property had been part of Lou Doherty's Stallion Station, which stood likes of 1959 Kentucky Derby winner Tomy Lee, Poker, the broodmare sire of Seattle Slew and Silver Charm, and French champion Sassafras. In fact, those stallions are buried in the farm's equine cemetery.
However, a second cemetery on the property – one that is the final resting place for the Shely family – that has even more historical significance. According to the Herald-Leader, the family were descendants of Capt. David Shely, a “pioneer Indian fighter from Virginia who was given 2,000 acres of Kentucky land for his military service in the Revolutionary War.”
Capt. Shely was one of the first Kentucky Thoroughbred breeders to stand a champion from England – a stallion named Crawler, who was by Highflyer.
Several generations of the Shely family lived on the farm, including Magdalena Shely, whom McPeek named his farm after.
“I think you've got to respect the land and the history of the land,” McPeek said. “These people were here first. It's a pretty amazing thing.”
Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader
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