Brad Kelley is one of the largest landowners in the United States and is an avid conservationist.  He does not develop the land he buys.  As part of his conservation efforts, he breeds endangered exotic animals to save them from extinction and return them to their native habitats.

In relation to Kelley’s vast land holdings, the 800-acre Calumet Farm on the outskirts of Lexington, Kentucky, is small change.  But to many folks like Kelley (from Franklin, Kentucky, about 45 miles northeast of Nashville, Tennessee), the Calumet Farm property is the crown jewel of Thoroughbred breeding and racing.  When the farm came up for sale in 2012, Kelley–the self-described “good old boy from Kentucky”–purchased it from the heirs of previous owner Henryk de Kwiatkowski (who deserve plenty of credit for keeping the farm from being developed).

de Kwiatkowski bought Calumet Farm from the heirs of Lucille Markey, the remarried widow of Warren Wright.  Wright built it into the premier breeding and racing establishment of all time in American Thoroughbred horse racing.  In a sordid tale (told in the book Wild Ride), the farm was mismanaged into bankruptcy.

From 1941 through 1958, Calumet Farm won the Kentucky Derby eight times and had two winners (Whirlaway and Citation) of the Triple Crown.  This year, Calumet will have three starters in the race—Hence, Patch, and Sonneteer.  While they are longshots, it would be a story replete with nostalgia and redemption if one of them pulled off an upset victory. However, just having the Calumet name back in the Derby is enough for now.

Brad Kelley’s colors are black-and-gold rather than the famous devil-red-and-blue colors carried by so many Calumet champions.  Plenty of people will be rooting to see a black-and-gold-clad jockey flash first under the finish line on Derby Day 2017.

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