Kentucky Horseman A. Carter Thornton Dies

A. Carter Thornton, who owned Threave Main Stud near Paris, Ky., died April 18. He was 92.

Thornton and his late wife, Peggy, operated Threave Main for 50 years before he handed the reins over to his daughter, Meg, and son, Tim. Meg serves as farm manager. Tim is general manager of Brereton C. Jones’ Airdrie Stud near Midway, Ky.

Carter Thornton played major roles in three Kentucky Derby winners. He raised 1940 Derby winner Gallahadion and 1945 winner Hoop, Jr., and prepped and sold 1971 winner Canonero II, who also won the Preakness.

For the farm and clients, Thornton raised 100 stakes horses, including grade I winner and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Linkage for Jane du Pont Lunger’s Christiana Stables. Alone and in partnership, Thornton was the breeder of more than 20 stakes winners, several of which he raced and trained, including Dangerous Leader, Little Tudor, and Plumb Grey.

Thornton’s career in racing started early in life. Thornton  was raised on a farm in New Jersey and during summers he visited his grandfather, William Carter, who managed Robert Fairbairn’s Fairholme Stud in Central Kentucky. While Thornton was attending Rutgers University in New Jersey, his grandfather died, and Thornton was offered the job of managing Fairholme. He quickly took the position. Fairbairn was the breeder of Gallahadion and Hoop. Jr.

Following service during World War II, Thornton managed Clifford Mooers’ farm in Central Kentucky before starting Threave Main, naming it after a castle in Scotland.

Thornton experienced a distinguished career as a horseman. He served as president of the Kentucky Farm Managers’ Club, The Thoroughbred Club of America, and the Kentucky Division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Tim Thornton also took a turn as president of the Farm Managers’ Club.

The family requests donations to the Kentucky Racetrack Chaplaincy (KRTC), P.O. Box 324, Simpsonville, Ky., 40067. Graveside service is at the Paris Cemetery at 11:00 a.m.on April 22. 

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