Thursday, November 27, 2014

On hallowed ground: The Calumet cemetery

On a recent fall afternoon, after taking a peek at new-to-U.S. stallions Musketier and Red Rocks, both recently arrived at Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm for stud duties, I detoured through the equine cemetery before taking leave of the historic land. It felt, to put it lightly, very special to be there. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was cold and the sun was beginning to set, so I walked around and took photos more quickly than I'd have liked, but I did get a picture of every marker, some of which I will post here although they are not all easy to read.

Bull Lea's statue and the setting sun.
There are 63 gravestones in the Calumet cemetery, although five or six of the horses are not interred there. Sadly for racehorse cemetery aficionados like me, that means that the markers for Barbizon, Coaltown, Hill Gail, Iron Liege, and Mark-Ye-Well are figureheads only. The horse in question, who died in France and is reputed online (without sources) to have been later reburied at Calumet, is Whirlaway. Next time I'm at the Keeneland library, I will have to do some proper research and see if I can corroborate the movement of his remains to Kentucky.

Bull Lea's grave is centered at the back of the cemetery. Markers of the seven male classic winners buried or memorialized there form a semi-circle -- matching the curve of the front of the base of Bull Lea's statue (created by Portuguese-born sculptor Antonio da Costa) -- in front of the stallion. In another semi-circle across the statue lie all the mares, except for Two Lea, that produced Kentucky Derby winners. Facing outward -- looking in the same direction as his statue -- to Bull Lea's immediate left are his daughters Twilight Tear, Miz Clementine, Bewitch, Bubbley, Real Delight, Amoret, Two Lea, and Twosy; and to his immediate right, his sons Gen. Duke, Commodore M., Armed, Coaltown (not interred), Yorky, and Mark-Ye-Well (not interred). Two Lea's burial place indicates that keeping the line of Bull Lea progeny intact, minus his classic winners, superseded the importance of keeping the Derby-producing mares together.

Bull Lea's statue keeps a vigil over the cemetery.
Here is a list, organized by year of death, of the headstones:

Horse (color [as provided on stone], sex, sire, dam), YOB-YOD:
1. Slow and Easy (chestnut, f, Colin - Shyness), 1922-1944
2. *Dustwhirl (bay, f, Sweep - Ormonda), 1926-1946
3. Pensive (chestnut, c, Hyperion - §Penicuik II), 1941-1949
4. Potheen (brown, f, Wildair - Rose O'Grady), 1928-1950
5. Some Pomp (chestnut, f, Pompey - Some More), 1931-1951
6. Jane Gail (chestnut, f, Blenheim II - Lady Higloss), 1944-1952
7. Two Bob (chestnut, f, The Porter-Blessings), 1933-1953
8. Nellie Flag (chestnut, f, American Flag - Nellie Morse), 1932-1953
9. ?Whirlaway (chestnut, c, Blenheim II - §Dustwhirl), 1938-1953
10. Twilight Tear (bay, f, §Bull Lea - Lady Lark), 1941-1954
11. Hug Again (chestnut, f, Stimulus - Affection), 1931-1956
12. Unerring (brown, f, Insco - Margaret Lawrence), 1936-1956
13. Gen. Duke (brown, c, §Bull Lea - §Wistful), 1954-1958
14. Hydroplane II (chestnut, f, Hyperion - Toboggan), 1938-1958
15. Miss Rushin (bay, f, Blenheim II - Lady Erne), 1942-1958
16. *Penicuik II (chestnut, f, Buchan - Pennycomequick), 1934-1958
17. Ponder (dark bay, c, §Pensive - §Miss Rushin), 1946-1958
18. Whirl Some (gray, f, §Whirlaway - Some Pep), 1945-1958
19. Armful (black, f, Chance Shot - Negrina), 1933-1962
20. Miz Clementine (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Two Bob), 1951-1962
21. Bewitch (brown, f, §Bull Lea - §Potheen), 1945-1962
22. Commodore M. (bay, c, §Bull Lea - Early Autumn), 1951-1963
23. Armed (bay, g, §Bull Lea - §Armful), 1941-1964
24. Bubbley (dark brown, f, §Bull Lea - §Blue Delight), 1950-1964
25. Bull Lea (bay, c, Bull Dog - Rose Leaves), 1935-1964
26. Iron Maiden (bay, f, War Admiral - Betty Derr), 1941-1964
27. Wistful (chestnut, f, Sun Again - §Easy Lass), 1946-1964
28. xCoaltown (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Easy Lass), 1945-1965
29. Sun Again (chestnut, c, Sun Teddy - §Hug Again), 1939-1965
30. Blue Delight (brown, f, Blue Larkspur - Chicleight), 1938-1966
31. Mar-Kell (bay, f, Blenheim II - §Nellie Flag), 1939-1966
32. Waynoka (f, War Admiral - Leonissa), 1949-1966
33. Yorky (bay c, §Bull Lea - §Waynoka), 1957-1966
34. Easy Lass (brown, f, Blenheim II - §Slow and Easy), 1940-1968
35. xHill Gail (dark bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Jane Gail), 1949-1968
36. Real Delight (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Blue Delight), 1949-1969
37. Citation (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Hydroplane II), 1945-1970
38. xMark-Ye-Well (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Mar-Kell), 1949-1970
39. On-and-On (bay, c, *Nasrullah - §Two Lea), 1956-1970
40. Amoret (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Mar-Kell), 1952-1971
41. Bardstown (dark bay, g, *Alibhai - §Twilight Tear), 1952-1972
42. xIron Liege (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Iron Maiden), 1954-1972
43. Two Lea (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Two Bob), 1946-1973
44. A Gleam (bay, f, Blenheim II - §Two Lea), 1949-1974
45. Plum Cake (chestnut, f, §Ponder - §Real Delight), 1958-1976
46. Princess Turia (chestnut, f, Heliopolis - §Blue Delight), 1953-1975
47. Twosy (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Two Bob), 1942-1975
48. xBarbizon (c, Polynesian - Good Blood), 1954-1982
49. Mon Ange (chestnut, f, Tom Fool - §Two Lea), 1962-1982
50. Tim Tam (dark bay, c, Tom Fool - §Two Lea), 1955-1982
51. Best Turn (dark bay or brown, c, *Turn-to - §Sweet Clementine), 1966-1984
52. Sweet Tooth (bay, f, §On-and-On - §Plum Cake), 1965-1988
53. Lucinda Lea (bay, f, §Best Turn - Little Stormy), 1975-1989
54. Sagace (Fr) (bay, c, Luthier - Seneca (Fr)), 1980-1989
55. Sweet Clementine (bay, f, Swaps - §Miz Clementine), 1960-1989
56. Alydar (chestnut, c, Raise a Native - §Sweet Tooth), 1975-1990
57. Katonka (bay, f, Minnesota Mac - Minnetonka), 1972-1990
58. Kennelot (bay, f, Gallant Man - Queen Sucree), 1974-1994
59. Lech (bay, c, Danzig - Wedding Reception), 1988-1994
60. De La Rose (bay, f, Nijinsky II - Rosetta Stone), 1978-2001
61. Gdynia (chestnut, f, Sir Ivor - Classicist), 1978-2001
62. Our Mims (bay brown f, Herbager - §Sweet Tooth), 1974-2003
63. Sugar and Spice (bay, f, Key to the Mint - §Sweet Tooth), 1977-2004

§ denotes a sire or dam also interred or memorialized at the Calumet cemetery
x not interred
? may or may not be interred
* denotes an imported horse, and is included here as it is noted on the stones.

Numbers 58-61 are burials from the Henryk de Kwiatkowski era of Calumet.

Numbers 62 and 63 were bred and raced by Calumet but died elsewhere; they were returned to their birthplace for burial.

Discrepancies or errors:

21. Bewitch: Her National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame page and other sources say she died in 1959, contrary to the 1962 on her gravestone. She is buried between Miz Clementine (died 1962) and Bubbley (died 1964).

Bewitch: Born in 1945 and died in 1962.
42. Iron Liege: He died in Japan. According to some sources, his year of death was 1971, contrary to the 1972 on his gravestone.

48. Barbizon: Sources indicate he died in 1983, contrary to the 1982 on his gravestone.

61. Gdynia: The name of her sire, Sir Ivor, is misspelled as "Siv Ivor" on her marker.

Observations and curiosities:

~On Bull Lea: Thirteen of his progeny are buried at Calumet, with four more memorialized in the cemetery, for a total of 17 markers for progeny of the farm's great foundation sire.

Triple Crown winner Citation, with his sire Bull Lea in the background.
~On Citation: Of the many things written on his two stones, it was the last two lines that caught my eye: "winner of computer race of century, April 1968".

~On Two Lea: Four of her progeny, the most of any broodmare, are buried in this cemetery. Blue Delight, Sweet Tooth, and Two Bob (Two Lea's dam) each have three sons or daughters buried, although only one of Sweet Tooth's died while living at Calumet. All of these mares are also buried at Calumet.

Two Lea, the broodmare with the most progeny buried in this cemetery.
~On Iron Maiden: She produced 1957 Kentucky Derby winner Iron Liege (who famously defeated one of my favorite horses, Gallant Man, in that race). Her daughter Iron Reward produced 1955 Kentucky Derby winner Swaps (not for Calumet), and Swaps is noted on Iron Maiden's epitaph. (Sidenote: Iron Maiden's dam Betty Derr is the eighth dam, but not through Iron Maiden, of 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.) Calumet bred Miz Clementine to Swaps and got Sweet Clementine, who produced Best Turn, who sired Calumet champion Davona Dale (plus Cox's Ridge, not for Calumet); Best Turn, Sweet Clementine, and Miz Clementine are buried at Calumet.

Iron Maiden, dam and granddam of Kentucky Derby winners.
~The dams of two Triple Crown winners are buried at Calumet: Dustwhirl and Hydroplane II. Burials Iron Maiden, Jane Gail, Miss Rushin, Penicuik II, Princess Turia, and Two Lea foaled Kentucky Derby winners.

Citation's dam Hydroplane II. 
~1958 was a bad year: Calumet lost a Kentucky Derby winner, the dam of a Triple Crown winner, the dams of two other Kentucky Derby winners, and the well-regarded young colt Gen. Duke.

~On Alydar: His grave is the closest to the front of the entry path, on the right side walking in (on the left, from the direction Bull Lea faces). He and his stakes-winning half-sisters Our Mims (champion) and Sugar and Spice have the most ancestors buried at Calumet: Within the first four generations of their dam Sweet Tooth's pedigree, every single ancestor bar Nasrullah, his sire Nearco, and dam Mumtaz Begum, are all buried at Calumet. They are: Sweet Tooth (first generation), On-and-On and Plum Cake (second generation); Two Lea, Ponder, and Real Delight (third generation); and Bull Lea, Two Bob, Pensive, Miss Rushin, Bull Lea, and Blue Delight (fourth generation). One fifth generation ancestor, Penicuik II, is also there.

~More on Alydar: He is the last horse buried on the farm during Calumet ownership, after his death on November 15, 1990. Katonka, who also died in 1990, predeceased him, dying on July 4.

Only Alydar and Citation have both a standing headstone and a stone that lies flat. Bull Lea's stone lies flat, with a statue instead of a headstone.
~Alydar's marker faces the post naming Calumet's Kentucky Derby winners: Whirlaway, Pensive, Citation, Ponder, Hill Gail, Iron Liege, and Tim Tam on the front; Forward Pass, who was awarded the 1968 Kentucky Derby well after the fact -- the final court ruling was handed down in 1972 -- following the drug-related disqualification of Dancer's Image, on the obverse. Alydar's placement facing the Kentucky Derby monument is ironic since he ran second to Affirmed in all three of the Triple Crown races.

~Although he is not buried at Calumet, Alydar's great rival Affirmed used to stand at the farm, and he occupied the stall directly across from Alydar's.

~On Sweet Tooth: She was Broodmare of the Year in 1977, the season Our Mims was champion three-year-old filly and Alydar was a Grade 1-winning two-year-old. Her grave marker, which is taller than the headstones that predate it, identifies her as "dam of stakes winners" but only names Our Mims. Sweet Tooth (who, I was told by John Greathouse, as I recall -- he worked with her at one time -- was misnamed) was also the dam of Grade 1 winner Sugar and Spice.

No mention of Alydar or Sugar and Spice on Sweet Tooth's gravestone.
~On Forward Pass: He is the only Calumet-bred Kentucky Derby winner who does not have a marker in the cemetery. He won the Preakness Stakes on his own merits and died in Japan in 1980. [Correction: Calumet-bred Strike the Gold, who won the 1991 Kentucky Derby -- not for Calumet -- and died in Turkey in 2011, also does not have a marker.]

~On Tim Tam: His epitaph mentions that this Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was second by "1/2 length" in the Belmont "on broken sesamoid bone."

~On Dustwhirl: Her son Whirlaway is mentioned on her epitaph, but unusually, there's no mention of his Triple Crown. Compare this to the information on Hydroplane's epitaph, for instance, which not only says that Citation won the Triple Crown but, oddly, credits her as being granddam of 1956 Preakness winner Fabius -- Fabius was sired by Citation, not out of one of her daughters.

Dustwhirl, the first Triple Crown-producing broodmare interred at Calumet.
~On Commodore M.: This horse, named by Calumet's Lucille Markey after her husband, Admiral Gene Markey, has the only marker of the 63 with no additional comments other than color, year of birth, year of death, sire, and dam. He sired just 42 foals, but one of them, Comely Nell, was the dam of Derby/Belmont winner Bold Forbes. Comely Nell's female line remains active in the 2000s; she's the fifth dam of Grade 1 winner Mushka.

~On Our Mims: This champion filly, later the namesake of Our Mims Retirement Haven, has a detailed epitaph that mentions not only her Kentucky Oaks but also that she was Rerun's Moneigh Equine Artist of the Year in 2002. The last line reads: "somebody's favorite horse."

~Twelve of the gravestones are engraved with birth and death dates, not just the years. Lucinda Lea (aged 14) and Sweet Clementine (29) died on the same day: May 1, 1989. French-bred stallion Sagace, who won the 1984 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (and was disqualified from first in the 1985 Arc), died on May 4, 1989, three days after the two mares.

~Buried or memorialized in the cemetery are 42 bay, brown, or dark bay variations; 17 chestnuts; one gray (Whirl Some); one black (Armful); and two whose colors are not identified on their stones: Barbizon (who was a dark bay), and Waynoka (registered as black).

~The youngest horse interred is Gen. Duke, who was four, and the oldest is Twosy, at 33. (Twosy became the fourth dam of 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors.)

~Hall of Fame members buried or memorialized: Citation (inducted 1959), Whirlaway (1959), Armed (1963), Twilight Tear (1963), Bewitch (1977), Two Lea (1982), Coaltown (1983), Tim Tam (1985), Real Delight (1987), and Alydar (1989). Calumet also bred and raced Hall of Famer Davona Dale (1985), but sold her as a broodmare. Bull Lea's epitaph is out-of-date: It says he is the sire of three Hall of Fame representatives, but there are now six in the U.S. and one, Bull Page (broodmare sire of Nijinsky II), in Canada.

Hall of Famer Armed, a gelding, is just one of the Horses of the Year buried here.
~Henryk de Kwiatkowski, who bought Calumet in 1992, raced 1982 champion three-year-old male and Belmont Stakes winner Conquistador Cielo. As a matter of pure coincidence, that colt's fifth dam is Dustwhirl, who is buried at Calumet.

I could go on (and on...and on), but instead I'll toss in some more headstone photos and call it a day.

Twilight Tear, filly who was named Horse of the Year as a three-year-old in 1944.
Champion Nellie Flag, the third dam of 1976 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Bold Forbes.
Penicuik II, whose son Pensive won the 1944 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and sired Derby winner Ponder (buried at Calumet, he in turn sired Kentucky Derby winner Needles).
Potheen was the dam of four stakes winners, including champion Bewitch, who beat Citation.
1936 Kentucky Oaks winner Two Bob was the dam of champion Two Lea, who was the dam of champion Tim Tam. Two Bob was fifth dam of 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, who won the classic 30 years after Tim Tam.
Wistful, another Kentucky Oaks winner, was co-champion three-year-old filly with stablemate Two Lea in 1949.


  1. Thank you for sharing your visit to such a historic cemetery. Hallowed ground indeed.

  2. These pictures are fascinating. When you visited Calumet Farm to view Musketier and Red Rocks, did you do so as a regular person setting up an appointment to view a stallion or are you a horse breeder? I am visiting Kentucky next month and would love to visit the cemetary but IU am trying to figure a way to get onto the grounds.

  3. I always wondered if Whirlaway’s remains were ever brought back to Calumet for internment. Please update and let us know if you find out.
    Great job with all the tidbits of information. I’m the same way with the history of our incredible Thoroughbred horses.


    According to this story Whirlaway's remains were brought back to Calumet Farm