William Shively's Dixiana Farm of Lexington has become the signature sponsor of two turf stakes at Keeneland Racecourse—the Elkhorn (gr. IIT) that will be run April 25 and the Oct. 5 Bourbon (gr. IIIT).
The purse for each race has been increased by $100,000 to $250,000.
Shively, a Keeneland director who consigns and buys horses at Keeneland auctions, purchased Dixiana Farm in 2004. In 2009, he acquired Domino Stud, the half of the original Dixiana Farm that was sold in 1947. As a result, the historic farm was restored to its original acreage under one owner for the first time in more than 60 years.
Dixiana previously sponsored the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland.
"Dixiana Farm is an invaluable member of the Keeneland family, and we are very proud of our strong partnership," said Keeneland vice president of racing W.B. Rogers Beasley.
First carded in 1986, the Elkhorn for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/2 miles on the grass, has been won by champion turf horses Manila, Itsallgreektome, and Chief Bearhart, among other prominent grass stars. Last year's winner, Dark Cove, became the eighth graded stakes winner at Keeneland for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, earning for them a gold tray as part of the track's signature stakes trophy program.
The Elkhorn Stakes is named for Elkhorn Creek, an 86-mile-long stream that runs through Fayette, Scott, Woodford and Franklin counties in Central Kentucky, including the property on which Dixiana Farm is located.
Inaugurated in 1991, the Bourbon, for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. It is named in recognition of Bourbon County, located northeast of Lexington and home to some of North America's most prominent Thoroughbred farms.
Dixiana Farm was founded in 1877 by former Confederate soldier Barak G. Thomas, who took the breeding world by storm with his two colts Himyar, and his son, Racing Hall of Fame member and influential sire, Domino. Previous owners of the farm have included prominent breeders James Ben Ali Haggin, who incorporated the land as part of his Elmendorf Farm; New York magnate James Cox Brady; and Charles Fisher and later his daughter, Mary V. Fisher, an accomplished gaited show horse competitor.
A short feature on Dixana Farm, from the pages of The Blood-Horse: