(Edited press release)
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association announced Jan. 14 that Alice Headley Chandler, owner of Mill Ridge Farm near Lexington and prominent industry leader, will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.
“Alice Chandler richly deserves to be honored for her lifelong contributions to the Thoroughbred industry,” said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop. “Her remarkable achievements as an owner and breeder, and her service to a wide range of racing organizations over many decades, make her an exemplary choice for the Award of Merit.”
Chandler will receive the award Jan. 26 at the 38th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.
“I am just thrilled to be honored with the Eclipse Award,” said Chandler. “I have had a wonderful life with Thoroughbreds. My father (Hal Price Headley) was a great man. He had five daughters before his first son. Horses have been my life. When I was 8-years-old, I rode my pony, Pal, from the farm up to Keeneland. It’s been a natural for me. Horses have been my life.”
Hal Price Headley was a successful horseman and a co-founder of Keeneland Association. Following her father’s death in 1962, with four broodmares, Alice Chandler started Mill Ridge. She made a bold move by mating one of her broodmares, Attica, to multiple stakes winner Sir Gaylord.
“I was short on money because I had just built a new barn,” said Chandler. “I thought it would be a good match, but didn’t expect how good.”
Sir Ivor was sold for $42,000 to Arthur “Bull” Hancock at the 1966 Keeneland July sale on behalf of Raymond Guest. Sir Ivor won the 1968 Epsom Derby for Guest and was later named England’s Horse of the Year.
“Sir Ivor’s influence provided a major turning point in opening up the American market to the European market,” said Keeneland president and CEO Nick Nicholson. “It convinced foreign buyers that North American pedigrees could be adapted to European training methods and win Classic races.”
In addition to Sir Ivor, Mill Ridge has bred, raced, or sold a collection of stakes winners, including 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given, Japanese Horse of the Year Symboli Kris S, 1999 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Keeper Hill, 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo, and five Breeders’ Cup winners: Artie Schiller, Sweet Catomine, Round Pond, Spain, and Johar.
Over this period, Mill Ridge grew from 286 acres to its present 1,100 acres.
Chandler has also had leadership roles in numerious equine organizations. She has served as chairman of the University of Kentucky Equine Research Foundation; president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association; and director of the Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland Association and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. She has also been a member of the Equine Drug Council and the Gluck Research Center.
“I believed it was important for me to take an active leadership role for these important programs and organizations,” she said. “All of this has made for a terrific life.”
In 2006, Mrs. Chandler was recognized by the Kentucky Senate for her lifelong dedication to her community and to the equine industry. Chandler’s husband, Dr. John Chandler, is president of the North American division of Juddmonte Farms.