The Mill Ridge Story

The Mill Ridge Story

SilksYou cannot discuss Mill Ridge and its 50 years of existence without a mention of those that have contributed mightily. Like the land, the people make up the framework to allow Alice to execute on her dream starting with her loyal employees who followed her from her father’s Beaumont Farm; Eugene Burgan, Henry Jackson and Joe Bates. This nucleus and manager Bill Shorter was the very beginning and played a vital role assisting her daily in her chores and growing Mill Ridge in its formative years.


Alice and her father Price Headley after Pellicle wins The Keeneland Special in 1946, with Leigh Cotton and George Stoute.

Her sons Mike, Reynolds and Headley grew up on the farm and became a fabric of its existence. While Mike chose to train and associate with great men like Frank Whitley, Reynolds stayed with the farm and helped execute a vision for its future. His assistance in recruiting Diesis and Gone West as stallions was vital in providing international awareness and purpose. Likewise, Headley and his contribution through Nicoma and its client successes added to the Mill Ridge chemistry. John Chandler was instrumental with his veterinary background, expertise and a connection to so many European clients. This was the mid 70’s and early 80’s and Mill Ridge was becoming a growing part of the ever changing Thoroughbred Industry.


Alice visits Hipparete with Out Talk at Beaumont Farm, 1963

Integral to Mill Ridge and its growth in the 80’s was Duncan Macdonald who initially came to the U.S. to work at Spendthrift Farm but as our luck would have it, had visa issues and found work at Mill Ridge… and Bill Thomason who had initially consulted for an accounting firm and would provide invaluable guidance throughout his 30 years along with Buddy Bishop, whose father W.T. Bishop helped build Keeneland. Buddy’s law firm, Stoll Keenon Park was key with so many in the Thoroughbred business including Keeneland, Claiborne Farm, Darley Stud and Juddmonte Farms to name a few and now his daughter Shannon has ably stepped in. Dr. Ed Fallon and his Hagyard Davidson McGee veterinary practices were instrumental in the early days and his protégé Stuart Brown has taken over that responsibility. Harry McKenna and his blacksmith team branched down to present day Charlie Biancke and his 25 years of involvement.


Alice and John with Millie and Fast Eddie

You see, it has taken many and we haven’t even gotten to the loyal employees of over 20 years dedication; George Cummins and his maintenance crew, constructing the additional Mill Ridge land into its functional usage along with Jonathan Mitchell. There has never been a kinder man on the shank as Randy Cuzick with the stallions and Donnie Snellings with the yearlings. Bayne Welker joined the team in 2000’s and assisted with the sales allowing Alice to step away from what was more of a grind than fun and Mary Miller and Kim Poulin in the office and Lori Bessenbacher with the foaling mares and their babies… providing that love and nurturing in their formative growth and then Marc Richardson, our yearling manager has a strong yet gentle hand with raising the yearlings.

Mill Ridge wasn’t just about Alice Chandler but it was her inspiration and leadership which allowed so many to contribute and grow Mill Ridge into what it has become today… 50 years later this is "our story".

History

Mill Ridge was started by Alice Chandler in 1962 and has been raising and selling racehorses in Lexington, Kentucky ever since. As a child riding her pony through her families Beaumont Farm, her horsemanship, passion, and stories are legendary. Inspired by her father, Hal Price Headley, a recognized community leader, accomplished farmer and a renowned horseman, he was the world to her. Upon his death in 1962 he left Alice four mares and 286 acres which provided the foundation of Mill Ridge and the opportunity to follow her heart. Her father’s influence as a breeder remains strong notably through his champion Alcibiades (dam of champion Menow). Yet, it was another descendent of Alcibiades that put Mill Ridge to the front of the commercial breeding industry.


SIR IVOR

In 1968 Alice became the first woman to breed an Epsom Derby winner, just five years after founding Mill Ridge Farm. This established the farm as an international source of top-flight performers when SIR IVOR became the first American-bred sold at public auction to win the Epsom Derby. Attica, SIR IVOR's mother was a descendent of Alicibiades, and one of the original mares given to Alice by her father. SIR IVOR was sold at the 1966 Keeneland July sale for $42,000 to Raymond Guest. His influence started the trend of American-bred European classic winners and was a major turning point for Keeneland and the U.S. commercial market, as foreign buyers now travelled to America to buy classic winners.


Alice with Princess Anne, and University of Kentucky President Lee Todd at the Gluck Center

Alice Chandler received the 2009 Eclipse Award of Merit. She has served as chairperson of the University of Kentucky Equine Research Foundation, president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and a director of the Breeders' Cup, Keeneland Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; and a member of the Equine Drug Council and the Gluck Research Center. Alice Chandler was recognized by the 2006 Kentucky State Senate for her lifelong dedication to the community and to the equine industry. John Chandler moved to Lexington from his native South Africa, with a brief stop in Newmarket, in 1966. A board certified Veterinary practitioner, John first met Alice while making rounds with Dr. Ed Fallon. At that time Alice had about 80 mares and handled all the teasing, foaling, and care, with eight other employees. Alice and John married in 1970, and together they instilled Mill Ridge’s best practices with their loyal team, a framework that our clients have grown to expect as 'the Mill Ridge way.' Alice’s son Headley became Managing Director of the farm in 2008. Taught his trade by his mother, Headley started Nicoma Bloodstock in 1979 as a full service bloodstock agency. Like his mentor (or mother) Headley has a passion for the horse. Headley and the Mill Ridge team work daily to insure the horses receive the best care, with the greatest attention to detail. By keeping the horse outdoors, playing and grazing on Kentucky’s best soils — handling them with a compassionate hand, we take care of the animal — and take pride in the results they produce. Alice founded Mill Ridge so she could raise and be around her life’s passion, the horse. Promoting, protecting, and raising the horse in the most thoughtful and caring way, is the foundation of Mill Ridge Farm. A soft hand, a watchful eye, and thorough care are the keystones of Mill Ridge’s horsemanship. Echoing through all facets of life on Mill Ridge Farm is Alice’s life’s motto: "Take care of the horse, and it will take care of you".