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Frances Dodge

Frances Dodge
Born 17, 1914(1914-Template:MONTHNUMBER-17)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died 24, 1971
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Occupation Racehorse owner/breeder

Frances Dodge (November 17, 1914 - January 24, 1971) was an internationally known horsewoman.

She was the eldest of the three children of John Francis Dodge (co-founder of Dodge Motor Company) and his third wife Matilda Dodge. She finished boarding school at Mt. Vernon Seminary in 1933 and married James Johnson on July 1, 1938. On her 25th birthday, in 1939, she received control of her $10,000,000 trust fund from the Dodge estate,.).[1]

Like her older half-sister, Isabel who owned Brookmeade Stable, Frances Dodge also became interested in horse racing and breeding. She founded Dodge Stables at Meadow Brook Farm where she bred American Saddlebreds, including Wing Commander, a five gaited horse who became a legend in the show horse world.

In 1945, she and Jimmy Johnson bought Castleton Farm in Lexington, Kentucky which was to become a standardbred breeding farm as successful as any worldwide. Together, the Johnsons won the Hambletonian in 1948 with homebred Hoot Mon, and again with Victory Song. Their red chestnut pacing star, Ensign Hanover, won the Little Brown Jug. It is believed that Ensign Hanover is the first horse to have ever flown in an airplane, when he flew, crosstied in the aisle of a DC - 3 cargo plane, to a stake race in Long Island from Indiana. On September 27, 1940 Mrs. Johnson set the record for trotting under saddle on Greyhound, completing a mile in 2:01.3/4 at Lexington, Kentucky's famous Red Mile. This record stood for 54 years, until broken by Money Maker, a trotter bred by Mrs. vanLennep's daughter, Fredericka Caldwell. (It was only the second time that Greyhound had ever been ridden.)

Divorced from her first husband in 1948,[2] she remarried to Frederick Van Lennep in 1949. The same year Dodge Stables were moved to Castleton Farm.

Mrs van Lennep continued to support harness racing and was considered one of the foremost women pioneers in the sport until her death in 1971 at age 56.

In 1972, she was elected to the World Championship Horse Show Hall of Fame, along with her horse Wing Commander, and trainer Earl Teater.

The Van Lennep Memorial Achievement Award is given to recognize extraordinary contribution by an individual or organization in the Standardbred industry. Though named for Frederick Van Lennep, Mr. Van Lennep credited his wife for much of the success of Castleton Farm.[3].


  1. Time Magazine, Monday, Dec. 4, 1939
  2. Time Magazine, Monday, April 19, 1948
  3. Oakland University. "Frances Dodge (1914-1971)". http://www2.oakland.edu/oakland/ouportal/index.asp?item=3996&site=87&centeronly=y. Retrieved December 18, 2006. 

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