Looking Back: Alydar Gave Lucille Markey A ‘Big Thrill’ In 1978 Blue Grass

The post parade of Keeneland‘s 1978 Blue Grass left an indelible memory in Thoroughbred racing lore. As the field meandered to the starting gate, jockey Jorge Velasquez steered Calumet Farm’s homebred Alydar to the outside rail, where his owners Lucille and Admiral Gene Markey waited on the Clubhouse lawn.

Lucille Markey was 81 and in failing health but the sight of Calumet’s prized colt rejuvenated her as she got a close-up view. Alydar went on to win the Blue Grass as a prelude to his legendary runner-up finishes behind Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races.

In the days leading up to the 40th anniversary of Alydar’s Blue Grass, trainer John Veitch, now a Keeneland racing official, vividly and slightly emotionally recalled the iconic moment.

“It worked out exceptionally well because Alydar seemed to respond to the Markeys and he sort of bowed,” he said. “Mrs. Markey had gradually lost her eyesight and could only recognize what was very close to her. That was the last time the Markeys saw a race in person and the only time they saw Alydar in a live race. Of course they watched on television but seeing him in the Blue Grass was a big thrill for them.”

Adjacent to Keeneland, the white-fenced Calumet Farm is famous for producing decades of champion Thoroughbreds, including Triple Crown winners Citation and Whirlaway and six other Kentucky Derby winners. Lucille Markey’s first husband, Warren Wright, who died in 1950, had inherited the farm from his father in 1932. She married Gene Markey in 1952 and together they kept the Calumet Farm name among the sport’s most acclaimed operations.

Lucille Markey died in 1982, but the Calumet Farm legacy continues under current owner Brad Kelley.

“Calumet Farm was extremely significant to racing and Mrs. Markey was exceptionally dedicated to carrying on that tradition after her first husband died,” Veitch said. “Alydar’s Blue Grass was a big deal to Mrs. Markey. She talked about it until the day she died – both how wonderful Alydar was and how the fans really recognized who she was at Keeneland.”

The post Looking Back: Alydar Gave Lucille Markey A ‘Big Thrill’ In 1978 Blue Grass appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed