Early History of Elmendorf Farm
In 1874, Milton H. Sanford purchased 544 acres (2.20 km2) of the Hughes farm. Stanford had previously had a farm in New Jersey, named for the town of Preakness, New Jersey after which he also named his horse Preakness — the same horse for whom the Preakness Stakes is named. After moving to Kentucky, Sanford continued to use the same name. The stallion Virgil was based at Preakness Stud and sired three Kentucky Derby winners: Vagrant (1876), Hindoo (1881) and Ben Ali (1886).
In 1881, Sanford sold the land as well as his bloodstock (including Virgil and other leading sire Glenelg) to Daniel Swigert, who had been the manager of the Woodburn Stud as well as a "pinhooker", one who buys horses and quickly sells them. Swigert renamed the farm Elmendorf for his wife's grandmother, Blandina Elmendorf Brodhead. For years Swigert ran Elmendorf, breeding many exceptional horses. He also purchased and later sold the champion Spendthrift, which he had named after his wife's spending habits. A while later, his wife responded by naming Spendthrift's younger brother, Miser.
Before acquiring Elmendorf, Swigert had owned and then sold the 1870 Belmont Stakes winner Kingfisher, the 1873 Belmont Stakes winner Springbok and the 1877 Kentucky Derbywinner Baden-Baden. He also bred the great Hindoo. While in charge of Elmendorf, Swigert bred Salvator, Firenze, and the Kentucky Derby winners Ben Ali and Apollo.
Swigert sold Elmendorf in October 1891 to Con J. Enright. Enright owned it for less than six years, but imported several good breeding mares from Europe. Enright most notably bred U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Hamburg. He sold the farm to James Ben Ali Haggin in 1897.
James Ben Ali Haggin, who already had had much success with Thoroughbreds in his Rancho Del Paso spread in California, expanded Elmendorf by buying quite a few of the surrounding farms. Under Haggin, the farm grew to over to over 8,900-acre (36 km2) with 2,000 horses — his total investment was some $2 million. The expanded farm was centered along the Paris Pike, with over five miles of road frontage. In buying Elmendorf, Haggin bought Salvator, Miss Woodford, Firenze, Star Ruby, Water Boy, Hamburg Bell and quite a few other good horses. He stood the great Salvator here until the horse's death in 1909. It is possible that Salvator lies in an unmarked grave at Elmendorf.
Haggin also built a $300,000 mansion on a small hill overlooking Elk Horn which he called "Green Hills," a great Southern Mansion in style and feeling. He also built a model dairy farm and a greenhouse which he filled with exotic plants. The first record of Dexter cattle in the United States is when more than two hundred head were imported between 1905 and 1915, a large number of which were imported by Elmendorf Farm.
Haggin's extensive Kentucky interests, including Elmendorf Farm, were managed in his absence by Charles Henry Berryman of Lexington. The Berryman family lived on farm property in a house that is still called the Berryman House. After "Green Hills" was demolished by Joseph Widener, the Berryman Home was the only habitable mansion on the farm and as such was occupied by Widener's grandson, Peter A. B. Widener III (1925–1999) and his family during the 1950s.
When Haggin died in 1914, the estate was broken up.
In 1923, Joseph Widener (1871–1943) and his nephew, George, bought a part of Elmendorf. Joseph operated his portion as Elmendorf Form. George operated his portion as Old Kinney Farm. From then until the 1940s, the main part of Elmendorf was owned by Joseph Early Widener and then by his son Peter A. B. Widener II. In 1929, the elder Widener tore down Haggins' mansion "Green Hills" to void taxes on the unoccupied behemoth. He left the mansion's stately marble pillars which became a Central Kentucky landmark.
Widener bought the stallion Fair Play as well as the broodmare Mahubah at the dispersal sale of August Belmont. Fair Play and Mahubah, who were the sire and dam of Man o' War, are buried at what is now called Normandy Farm.
Elmendorf was once almost 10,000 acres and encompassed many of the farms around it, including what is now called Normandy Farm - where Fair Play and Mahubah (Man o' War's sire and dam) are interred.
In 1950, Maxwell Henry Gluck (1896–1984) purchased the original section of Elmendorf Farm along with its name rights. Gluck, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Darlington Stores Corporation and later the United States Ambassador to Ceylon, had his first success in racing when he bought Prince John for $14,300 at the 1954 yearling sales. The pillars of Haggins' "Green Hills" remained on Gluck's farm, and in front of them are buried Gluck's juvenile champion Protagonist (by Prince John), Speak John (also by Prince John), and Verbatim. Gluck owned Elmendorf until his death in 1984 after which his widow sold it and about 350 horses to Jack Kent Cooke.
Cooke continued to use the property for his broodmare band until 1997, when he sold the remaining horses to Stonerside Stable. The property was sold to Dinwiddie Lampton, and is currently owned by the Lampton family's American Life and Accident Insurance Company.