The lasting legacy of Faraway Farm is certainly its time as home to the great Man o' War, who lived on the property off Russell Cave Road north of Lexington, Ky. The land's history goes beyond the throngs of visitors who flocked to Big Red's stall, however.
The acreage that eventually became the home of Man o' War was part of a 2,000-acre parcel Thomas Jefferson gifted in 1774 to William Russell as a tribute to his brother Henry Russell's service in the French and Indian War. It would seem Russell Cave was named for the family. A spring runs from within the cave, one of the largest stream caves in the area (reportedly so large that a man once lived above the cave and kept his gun shop from inside the cave, and large enough it's rumored to have held runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad).
The cave was also the backdrop of a gruesome scuffle between abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay and Samuel Brown. Both were in attendance at an 1843 rally near the cave held by pro-slavery advocate Robert Wickliffe when Clay objected to the speaker's message, apparently prompting Brown to shoot him. Brown's shot hit the blade of the bowie knife in Clay's shirt pocket, and Clay retaliated, slashing Brown in the face repeatedly. Clay's cousin Henry represented him in court and secured an acquittal for all charges relating to the violence.
The Russell family sold the land in the 1860s and it continued changing hands until it was purchased in 1905 by James Ben Ali Haggin, who owned nearby Elmendorf. Elmendorf operations focused on Thoroughbreds but also included coach horses, dairy cattle and laying hens to support the farm.
About 15 years later, Pennsylvania-based owner and textiles manufacturer Samuel Riddle was looking for a place to stand one of the most famous and accomplished Thoroughbreds in American history. Riddle had decided to retire Man o' War rather than accept the excessive weights he anticipated the chestnut would be assigned in handicaps as a 4-year-old winner of 20 from 21 lifetime starts.
In a somewhat unconventional move for the early 1920s, Riddle assigned the task of managing Man o' War's stud career to a woman – Elizabeth Daingerfield, who had grown up at Castleton Stud, where her father Foxhall was manager, down the road from the Elmendorf property. By 1920 she had run Castleton, managed Haylands Farm, and leased her own Hinata Farm. Man o' War first stood at Hinata until Daingerfield found a piece of the old Russell property for sale and advised Riddle to purchase it. He did, along with his wife's niece Sarah Jeffords and Sarah's husband, Walter.
A 1926 feature in the Saturday Evening Post described Daingerfield as quiet and serious with an impossible schedule that sent her dashing between Elmsmead Farm (which she also managed), Haylands, and Riddle's place, which he named Faraway. The Post described Daingerfield checking on the sizable staff at each place from her muddy car, stuffed with feed, buckets, medications, and dogs, with a suitcase containing an evening dress in the backseat and a revolver she called Louis Lee somewhere in the front (demonstrating that some things, like the contents of the farm manager's truck, do not really change much in the course of a century). Daingerfield did everything from nursing sickly foals to managing Man o' War's stud books, all while receiving a staggering amount of fan mail for the horse and sometimes, unsolicited marriage proposals, presumably on the strength of her association with him. It was also Daingerfield who designed and built the barns and roads on the Faraway property, some of which still stand today.
In 1930, Daingerfield left Faraway and the farm was placed in the hands of Harrie Scott (originally named Harry, he changed the spelling of his own name because he thought there were too many 'Harrys' in school already). It was Scott who convinced Riddle to breed Man o' War to Brushup, a young filly Daingerfield had advised him Continued from Page 1 PRS not to send to the sales. Brushup became the dam of War Admiral, the most successful of Man o' War's 64 stakes winners.
In 1946, the 900-acre Faraway property was divided between Riddle and Jeffords, with Jeffords' half retaining the name and the other half cycling through different owners and being renamed Man o' War Farm. The Jeffords and later their son, Walter Jeffords Jr., continued to breed from Faraway, and under their combined direction the farm nurtured 1952 Horse of the Year One Count, champion Kiss Me Kate, and 72 stakes winners, 32 by Man o' War or out of Man o' War mares.
Walter Jeffords died in 1990, and his wife Kay (successful in her own right with steeplechase runners) sold the Faraway property to Greg Goodman in 2002. Goodman added the acreage to his operation at Mt. Brilliant Farm, which was also originally a part of the Haggin property and since used for raising cattle. Goodman embarked on a restoration project of the farm's buildings and houses, including the original four-stall stallion barn where Man o' War once slept. Today, the building looks almost exactly as it did in the 1930s and 1940s, complete with a brass fire bell Riddle purchased from the Lexington fire department and rang whenever the stallion had a stakes winner.
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