Hall of Fame horse breeder Chandler dies at 95

Horse Racing

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Alice Headley Chandler, who founded Mill Ridge Farm and built a Hall of Fame career as a breeder of champion racing thoroughbreds, has died. She was 95.

The farm stated in a release that Chandler died peacefully at home Tuesday. Her son Headley, Mill Ridge’s general manager, said his mother died of natural causes. Chandler, a Lexington native, held leadership roles with numerous thoroughbred organizations including the Breeders’ Cup and nearby Keeneland race course, where she was on its board of directors for 23 years.

Chandler started Mill Ridge in 1962 after the death of her father Hal Price Headley, a fellow Hall of Famer who co-founded Keeneland and was its first president. Six years later she became the first American woman to breed an Epsom Derby champion when Sir Ivor won Britain’s richest and most prestigious Triple Crown event.

Her achievements earned induction last year into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as a Pillar of the Turf. In 2009, she received the Eclipse Award of Merit for contributions to the thoroughbred industry.

The farm’s release stated that when Chandler stepped down from leading Mill Ridge in 2008, she said, “I have lived a blessed life, doing just what I want to do: associate with the finest horses, clients, friends, and an industry that I love.”

Keeneland president and CEO Shannon Arvin said Chandler was an exceptional horsewoman and a tireless ambassador for the industry.

“Mrs. Chandler was a pioneer in our industry in many ways,” Arvin said, “and her lifelong motto of ‘Take care of the horse, and it will take care of you’ represents an important part of her legacy both at Mill Ridge Farm and at Keeneland.”

Survivors include her husband of 49 years, John Chandler; children Patricia, Mike, Reynolds and Headley; eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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