The stallion Lexington was the key figure in development of the American Thoroughbred during the second half of the 19th Century. He was statistically the leading stallion in America for 14 consecutive years, 1861 - 1875, and again in two later years. A total of 16 years as the leading sire has never been duplicated in any major racing nation. He sired 84 horses of a quality to be regarded as stakes winners in modern terminology, and 11 of them were recognized as champions. This record was all the more remarkable because Lexington was at stud during the Civil War, when many of his sons and daughters were confiscated by the cavalries.
Lexington was bred by Dr. Elisha Warfield, a noted Kentucky Turfman of his day, and was born in 1850. He was a son of the sire Boston and the mare Alice Carneal. He was originally named Darley and was leased by Warfield to the African-American trainer Henry Brown. His early victories in Kentucky attracted the interest of Richard Ten Broeck, who formed a syndicate to purchase the horse. The name was changed to that of this city because he was to represent the state of Kentucky in the Great Post Stakes in New Orleans. Under the name of Lexington, he won that event and he had five other triumphs from a total of seven races, earning $56,600. Lexington, which had become virtually blind, stood at historic Woodburn Stud west of the city. His fee rose to $500, the highest in America at that time. Among his best son were Kentucky, Asteroid, Norfolk, Harry Bassett, Tom Bowling, and Duke of Magenta. Lexington's dominance is illustrated by his siring nine of the first 15 winners of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Lexington died at 25 in 1875, and his skeleton was sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.