Preston Madden, Breeder Of Alysheba, Dies At Age 85

Preston Madden, the breeder of Hall of Famer Alysheba and former master of Hamburg Place, died Tuesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. He was 85 years old.

Madden was a Lexington, Ky., native and a graduate of Culver Military Academy in Indiana. He was the grandson of the prominent horseman John E. Madden, who founded Hamburg Place in Lexington in 1898, and raised a roster of classic winners that included Triple Crown winner Sir Barton.

The younger Madden took over Hamburg Place in 1956, returning the land’s use to raising Thoroughbreds after the previous generation focused its attention on polo. The most significant horse born under his watch came 28 years later, with the arrival of Alysheba.

The son of Alydar finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at age two, then came back to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes the following season to earn champion 3-year-old male honors. However, his most notable season came at four, when Alysheba won seven graded stakes races, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, to secure the 1988 Horse of the Year title. Alysheba was named to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

Madden remained an active Thoroughbred owner until his death, with his biggest active runner being Borracho (Spanish for “drunk” – most likely not an accidental name since Madden was known to bend his elbow now and then). The Uncle Mo colt finished third in last year’s Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes for trainer Rusty Arnold, and he last raced in a Gulfstream Park allowance optional claiming race on April 25. He also campaigned Miss Kentucky, who won the G3 Winning Colors Stakes in 2018.

He loved adventure, horses, gambling and the company of friends, whether it was in a backyard game of croquet or a friendly card game. The celebrated racing writer William Nack, a longtime friend of the Madden family, once told the story that local newspaper columnist Don Edwards dubbed “The Tortoise and the Handicapper” – a challenge by Preston Madden that their hefty mutuel friend, Arnold Kirkpatrick,  could not circumnavigate the 1 1/16-mile Keeneland main track in less than 10 minutes.  Madden and Kirkpatrick had been drinking and eating at a Keeneland fish fry, and Madden backed up his opinion with a $100 wager.

“Never one to shrink from a challenge,” Nack said, “Arnold took Preston up on the wager, descended to the dirt course, lined up at the finish line and took off. So there went Arnold, all 250 pounds of him, filled with catfish and Coors, chugging robustly around the track. He would not have shaken off Dr. Fager, reeling off quarter-mile splits in 2 minutes flat, but he sweated, he strained, he turned for home all alone and won by 31 lengths in the time of nine minutes and 23 seconds – a track record that has never been approached.

“Arnold was all full of himself and on the muscle when he trotted back to the winner’s enclosure and Preston handed him that $100 bill. What he didn’t realize is that Preston had bet a thousand dollars with others that Arnold would, indeed, shade 10 minutes.”

Just a few years after Alysheba’s championship campaign, Madden sold the bulk of the 2,000-acre Hamburg Place property to developers. Located off Interstate 75 in Lexington, the area is one of the city’s fastest-growing sectors for retail, dining, and housing. Many of the area’s streets also bear the names of horses raised on the property, including Sir Barton and Alysheba, Kentucky Derby winners Old Rosebud, Flying Ebony, and Paul Jones, and Belmont Stakes winners Grey Lag.

As development began to encroach Hamburg Place in the early 1990s, Madden once joked, he would go to the Waffle House on Winchester Road and gaze out the window over breakfast and “enjoy the peaceful serenity” of the farm’s horse cemetery, where many of its Thoroughbred and Standardbred greats were buried. He knew then Hamburg Place’s days as a horse farm were numbered and that development was inevitable. If he sat at that same Waffle House today, the cemetery view would be obscured by a Starbucks, a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center and Wal-Mart Supercenter where fields of lush bluegrass once grew.

Along with the horse business, the enduring presence in Madden’s life was his wife, socialite Anita Madden, with whom he threw Kentucky Derby parties widely known for their extravagance. The two were married for 63 years before Anita’s death in 2018 at age 85.

Madden is survived by a son, Patrick Madden, and daughter-in-law Jennifer, as well as grandchildren Caroline and Michael Madden.

Ruth Ann Childers, a friend of the family, confirmed with the Herald-Leader that Madden’s death was not related to COVID-19. A celebration of life for Madden will be held a later date.

Read more at Lexington Herald-Leader.

The post Preston Madden, Breeder Of Alysheba, Dies At Age 85 appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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