Longtime Thoroughbred breeder and Lexington native Thomas Haley Asbury died Sept. 29. He was 87 years old. Asbury's Hedgewood Farm has been in operation since 1924.
Asbury first partnered in the operation with his father, Charles Augustine Asbury, and then later with his son, Thomas "Carson" Asbury.
He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1948 with a bachelor's of science degree in agriculture and was a UK Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. An active member of his community, Asbury was also a five-time winner of the Lexington City Men's Singles Tennis Tournament and a member of the Thoroughbred Club of America.
Asbury entered the horse business at age 15 through the 4-H Club. Also an avid farmer, Asbury was drawn to the beauty and excitement of Thoroughbred racing. As his son Carson put it, "He was pleased most of the time" with the farm, the family and connections, and the several graded stakes winners bred by Hedgewood alone or in partnership.
Carson Asbury eventually made the decision to partner with his father, and the elder was very happy to have his son contribute to the operation and continue the family tradition.
Among the prominent Thoroughbreds bred by Asbury are dual grade II winner Stone Manor
(in partnership with Carson); Boundlessly
, winner of the Arlington Classic (gr. II) and the Sheridan Stakes (gr. III) at Arlington Park
; and Star Recruit
, a dual graded stakes victor bred in partnership with Meryl Ann Tanz.
Star Recruit was bred at Hedgewood and was the first foal for 1998 Broodmare of the Year In Neon. Asbury bought into the stakes-winning In Neon during her racing career and bred her several times before selling her in foal to Storm Cat. That foal was eventual multiple grade I winner Sharp Cat, and the mare's next offspring was another multiple grade I winner, Royal Anthem.
According to his son, Asbury was known for his patience and unassuming nature and was well-respected in the industry. Asbury enjoyed long relationships with many clients who became friends, such as trainer Lucien Laurin who kept some of his mares at Hedgewood with Asbury.
In the last 10 years, Asbury became notably less active, with the majority of the work of Hedgewood managed by Carson, who noted that for least the forseeable future, he will continue the work of the farm.
Asbury is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ann Carson Asbury; children, Sarah Carolyn Asbury Sanderlin, Thomas Carson Asbury (Barbara), and Judith Macon Asbury, all of Lexington; and four grandchildren.
Services are scheduled for Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Lexington. Visitation will be held Oct. 2 from 4-8 p.m. at Milward-Broadway