Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America's Legendary Racehorse (Paperback)

Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America's Legendary Racehorse By Kim Wickens Cover Image
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “A vivid portrait of America’s greatest stallion, the larger-than-life men who raced and bred him, and the dramatic times in which they lived.”—Geraldine Brooks, author of Horse

The powerful true story of the champion Thoroughbred racehorse who gained international fame in the tumultuous Civil War–era South, and became the most successful sire in American racing history


The early days of American horse racing were grueling. Four-mile races, run two or three times in succession, were the norm, rewarding horses who brandished the ideal combination of stamina and speed. The stallion Lexington, named after the city in Kentucky where he was born, possessed these winning qualities, which pioneering Americans prized. 

Lexington shattered the world speed record for a four-mile race, showing a war-torn nation that the extraordinary was possible even in those perilous times. He would continue his winning career until deteriorating eyesight forced his retirement in 1855. But once his groundbreaking achievements as a racehorse ended, his role as a sire began. Horses from his bloodline won more money than the offspring of any other Thoroughbred—an annual success that led Lexington to be named America’s leading sire an unprecedented sixteen times. 

Yet with the Civil War raging, Lexington’s years at a Kentucky stud farm were far from idyllic. Confederate soldiers ran amok, looting freely and kidnapping horses from the top stables. They soon focused on the prized Lexington and his valuable progeny.

Kim Wickens, a lawyer and dressage rider, became fascinated by this legendary horse when she learned that twelve of Thoroughbred racing's thirteen Triple Crown winners descended from Lexington. Wickens spent years meticulously researching the horse and his legacy—and with Lexington, she presents an absorbing, exciting account that transports readers back to the raucous beginning of American horse racing and introduces them to the stallion at its heart.

About the Author


Kim Wickens grew up in Dallas, Texas, and practiced as a criminal defense lawyer in New Mexico for twenty years. She subsequently turned her attention to writing, which she studied at Kenyon College, and has devoted the last several years to researching this book. Wickens’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, Narrative Magazine, The Blood-Horse, and The Paulick Report. She lives with her husband and son in Lexington, Kentucky, where she rides in the dressage discipline with her three horses.

Praise For…


“This incredible-but-true story barrels along at a Thoroughbred’s gallop. Wickens brings to life the courageous stallion Lexington and the indelible imprint he left on the American Thoroughbred breed.”—Elizabeth Letts, author of The Perfect Horse

“Best Racehorse Book Ever. . . a First-Place Blue-Ribbon of a book, full of engrossing, surprising, and sometimes startling detail about how American horse racing got its start . . . a must-have classic for every equestrian’s shelf.”—Wendy Williams, author of The Horse

“In this meticulously researched and skillfully drawn telling, Kim Wickens brings to vivid life the ‘forgotten horse’: Lexington. It defies belief that no book has ever been written on this near-blind Thoroughbred who left such an indelible mark on nineteenth-century horse racing.”—Lawrence Scanlan, author of The Horse God Built

“Kim Wickens’s deep and indefatigable research provides a knowledge akin to a master’s degree. And her compelling writing style renders the acquisition of knowledge a personal pleasure.”—Edward L. Bowen, racing journalist and author of The Lucky Thirteen

“If you want to know why horse racing was America’s first sport, it’s all here. At the center of it is a racehorse named Lexington, an unlikely cornerstone for America’s modern Thoroughbred breeding industry.”—Joe Drape, author of American Pharoah

“A totally engrossing story of one of the greatest horses that ever lived . . . I loved it.”—Nacho Figueras, champion polo player and co-author of High Season

“In this colorful debut biography, equestrian Wickens relates the life and legacy of the eponymous equine, who was foaled near his namesake city in Kentucky in 1850. Lovers of both history and horses will take enjoyment from this thoroughly told tale.”Publishers Weekly

“Wickens, a former attorney and current trainer, explores the life of the steed at the center of Geraldine Brooks’s superb novel Horse [in this] spirited biography of a famed Thoroughbred. Fans of horse racing and American history alike will enjoy this lively story.”Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593496725
ISBN-10: 0593496728
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2024
Pages: 416
Language: English