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Mill Ridge owner and Derby-winning breeder Alice Headley Chandler dies aged 95

Chandler was a renowned horsewoman and bred the 1968 Derby hero Sir Ivor

Alice Headley Chandler: owner of Mill Ridge Farm has died aged 95
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Mill Ridge Farm owner and famed horsewoman Alice Headley Chandler has died at the age of 95 in her home in Lexington, Kentucky.

Chandler - who bred 1968 Derby winner Sir Ivor - founded Mill Ridge Farm in 1962 and built it into one of Kentucky's leading operations, while she also served as chairperson of the University of Kentucky Equine Research Committee and president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. 

She was also director of the Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland Association, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

In 2006 Chandler was recognised by the Kentucky State Senate for her service and contributions to the racing and breeding industry and then in 2009 received the Eclipse Award of Merit. 

Last year she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s
Hall of Fame in the category of Pillars of the Turf for 2020, which recognises people "who have made extraordinary contributions to Thoroughbred racing in a leadership or pioneering capacity at the highest national level". The Hall of Fame also includes her father, Hal Price Headley.

Keeneland president and CEO Shannon Arvin said: “Keeneland mourns the passing of Alice Headley Chandler, Racing Hall of Famer and owner of nearby Mill Ridge Farm who served as a guiding light that helped shape the success of Keeneland. Mrs Chandler was an exceptional horsewoman who devoted her talents to caring for her beloved Mill Ridge, its horses and clientele, and her dear friends and family.

"Respected by horsemen internationally, she was a tireless ambassador for the thoroughbred industry and applied her leadership skills to make extraordinary contributions for the betterment of the sport."

Alice Headley Chandler bred the 1968 Derby hero Sir Ivor

She added: “Mrs Chandler’s life is inextricably linked to Keeneland. Her father, fellow Racing Hall of Famer Hal Price Headley, was Keeneland’s co-founder and first President, and she grew up at the track. Following his death in 1962, Mrs Chandler established Mill Ridge, which she developed into a leading breeding and sales operation grounded by her father’s philosophy of making the horse the priority. 

“Throughout her life, Mrs Chandler played a pivotal role in Keeneland’s history. She bred 1968 Epsom Derby winner Sir Ivor, whom Mill Ridge sold at the 1966 Keeneland July Selected Yearling Sale for $42,000 to Raymond Guest. The colt’s achievements boosted Keeneland’s reputation as an international auction house.

"While operating Mill Ridge, Mrs. Chandler held numerous industry leadership positions and continued her father’s service to Keeneland. She was a member of the track’s Board of Directors for 23 years. In 2012, Mill Ridge’s racing colours appeared on the Keeneland Club button, an honour that recognises prominent members of the industry. 

“Mrs Chandler was a pioneer in our industry in many ways, and her lifelong motto of ‘Take care of the horse, and it will take care of you’ represents an important part of her legacy both at Mill Ridge Farm and at Keeneland. Keeneland extends its deepest condolences to Alice’s husband, Dr. John Chandler; sons Headley Bell, Mike Bell and Reynolds Bell, and daughter, Patricia “Tish” Bell, and her entire family.”

Chandler is survived by her husband of 49 years - Dr John Chandler - children Patricia, Mike, Reynolds and Headley; eight grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be made in due course. 

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Her lifelong motto of ‘Take care of the horse, and it will take care of you’ represents an important part of her legacy
E.W. Terms