Susan Salmon Donaldson, 77, the owner of storied Mereworth Farm, died July 8 in Lexington.
Donaldson was the granddaughter of Mereworth Farm founder Walter Salmon Sr., a New York City real estate developer who bred some of American racing’s most influential horses, including Discovery, the broodmare sire of both Native Dancer and Bold Ruler. All three horses are members of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Walter Salmon Jr., Donaldson’s father, took over the farm in 1953 and also enjoyed breeding success, having bred grade I winner Palace Music, the sire of Cigar, who won 16 consecutive races and was named Horse of the Year and champion older male in 1995 and 1996.
Donaldson acquired the 1,200-acre farm from her father’s estate following the death of her father in 1986. Under her direction, Mereworth bred graded stakes winners Prophet’s Warning, Claire’s Honor, Double Honor, Reba's Gold, Texian, and Three Fanfares. Throughout its history, Mereworth Farm bred more than 170 stakes winners.
In 1991 Donaldson established the Susan S. Donaldson Foundation to preserve Mereworth after her death as a home for unwanted animals.
“I’ve always loved animals,” she told The Blood-Horse. “My aunt (Mrs. Lois Salmon Duffey) told me I should do it. We need things like this for old racehorses. And I would hate to see Mereworth developed."
Donaldson's survivors include a daughter, Virginia. A private funeral service will be held at Mereworth.