Visit Horse Country: Mill Ridge a Wellspring of Industry Influence

The Life
Tradition-rich Mill Ridge Farm outside of Lexington offers comprehensive services in Thoroughbred breeding, sales, and consulting. (Courtesy of Mill Ridge Farm.)

Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington was founded in 1962 by Alice Chandler, daughter of legendary Kentucky horseman Hal Price Headley. The farm has been an industry leader in propelling the evolution of Thoroughbred breeding and racing ever since.

Chandler established Mill Ridge out of a 248-acre parcel left to her by her father after his death. Hal Price Headley was one of the most successful farmers and horse breeders of the early and mid-20th Century through his Beaumont Farm in western Fayette County, responsible for breeding and racing such notable 1930s-era champions as Kentucky Oaks winner Alcibiades and her son Menow. Hal Price Headley, inducted as a Pillar of Turf into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2018, was one of the founders of Keeneland Race Course in the 1930s and served as its president from its opening in 1936 to 1951.

The pastoral life at Mill Ridge. (Courtesy of Mill Ridge Farm)

Mill Ridge was developed from part of Beaumont’s property, and Alice Chandler found success on an international scale soon after it opened. In 1968, the colt Sir Ivor, bred by Mill Ridge, became the first U.S-bred horse sold at public auction to win the Epsom Derby, a classic race in England. Sir Ivor would go on to be named the United Kingdom's Horse of the Year of 1968 and subsequently embark on a successful stud career. His accomplishments helped spark a trend of prestigious European owners looking to the U.S. for young horses to buy and bring back to their countries for racing.

From its inception, Mill Ridge has been at the center of many innovations in Thoroughbred breeding and sales, and along the way Alice Chandler received numerous honors from the industry, topped by the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2009. Price Headley Bell, son of Alice Chandler and grandson of Hal Price Headley, expanded Mill Ridge’s reach into the area of consulting with the launch of Nicoma Bloodstock in 1979. Through the subsequent decades, Nicoma has been involved with many successful breeding decisions, advising on the matings of such notable champions asStreet Sense and Havre de Grace as well as 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Price Headley Bell became managing partner of Mill Ridge in 2008; his son Price Bell Jr. is the sixth-generation family member to work at Mill Ridge/Nicoma.

Mill Ridge offers comprehensive services in breeding and sales, including boarding, consigning, and as noted above, consulting. After standing sires such as Diesis, Gone West, and Johar from the 1980s to the middle of this decade, Mill Ridge has stepped back into the stallion business with two horses currently standing at the farm: 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance (foaled and raised at Mill Ridge) and Keep Up.

Tours of Mill Ridge are offered through Horse Country. Mill Ridge’s showcase lasts around one and a half hours and features a tour of the grounds that begins in the breeding shed and is accompanied by an informative and engaging look back through the farm’s and family’s storied history. For more information or to schedule a tour, click here.

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