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Castleton Lyons

Castleton Farm
Type Horse breeding & Racing
Industry Standardbreds, American Saddlebreds, Thoroughbreds
Founded 1793
Headquarters Lexington, Kentucky
United States
Key people Owners:
John Breckinridge
David Castleman
James R. Keene
Foxhall P. Keene
Frances Dodge Van Lennep
Tony Ryan

Castleton Lyons near Lexington, Kentucky, is an American horse racing stable and breeding business best known by the name Castleton Farm.

The farm was established in 1793 when Virginian John Breckinridge, a future U.S. Senator and Attorney General, purchased 2,467 acres (10 km²) of land and on a portion of it established a thoroughbred horse breeding operation. On his passing, the property went to his daughter, the then Mrs. David Castleman who eventually built a mansion on the horse farm site and gave it the family name. Under Mr. & Mrs. Castleman, Castleton Farm continued as a thoroughbred operation but would add the breeding of American Saddlebreds as well as Standardbreds for harness racing.

The original property changed hands several times with parts sold to different parties. In the early 1890s Wall Street tycoon James R. Keene acquired the farm and purchased additional land to bring the operation to almost 1,000 acres (4 km²). Keene usually referred to the farm as "Castleton Stud" and under his direction it became one of the greatest thoroughbred operations of its day. The farm bred and/or raced future U.S. racing Hall of Fame horses Kingston, Domino, Ben Brush, Colin, Sysonby, Maskette, and Peter Pan.

As part of a program honoring important horse racing tracks and racing stables, the Pennsylvania Railroad named its baggage car #5865 the "Castleton Farm".

Upon the death of James R. Keene in 1913, the farm was taken over by his son Foxhall P. Keene. He continued the operation on a slightly reduced basis but sold it in the 1920s to fellow New Yorker, David Look. Look would have considerable success in harness racing but was forced to sell the farm after experiencing personal financial setbacks during the Great Depression.

In the early 1940's, heiress Frances Dodge founded the Dodge Stable. She was the daughter of Michigan automobile pioneer John F. Dodge and a half-sister of Isabel Dodge, owner of the highly successful Brookmeade Stable. In 1945, Frances Dodge purchased Castleton Farm and relocated her Dodge stable there. After she married New York City advertising executive Fredrick Van Lennep in 1949, the farm underwent major renovations in order to breed and raise both saddlebred show horses and standardbreds. The Van Lenneps made Castleton Farm one of the preeminent operations in both disciplines. Under Mrs. Van Lennep, Castleton's show horse Wing Commander became a six-time World Grand Champion and with her husband, she enjoyed enormous success in harness racing that included a number of Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug victories from horses such as "Harness Horse of the Year" winners Victory Song (1947), Emily's Pride (1948) and Speedy Scot (1963). Among the other noteworthy Castleton harness horses were Hoot Mon, Strike Out, and Ensign Hanover.

In 2001, Irish businessman and racing enthusiast Tony Ryan acquired Castleton Farm from the Van Lennep Family Trust. Ryan renamed it Castleton Lyons and undertook renovations to the property while returning to its original roots as a thoroughbred operation.


The Castlefarm Farm Cemetery lies at an "intersection of two of the tree-lined farm roads, and is an open green space flanked on one end by a twelve foot high horseshoe-shaped hedge." It is not only the final resting spot of a number of Standardbred and saddlebred mares and stallions, including Wing Commander but also, in unmarked graves, the gravesite for the thoroughbred stallions Commando (c. 1898-1905) and Kingston (c. 1884-1912).

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