Alice Headley Chandler
Friday 15th of January 1926 - Tuesday 6th of April 2021
833 West Main Street, Lexington, KY
Mrs. Chandler was the daughter of the late Hal Price Headley and Genevieve Molloy Headley. She is survived by her husband, Dr. John A. Chandler and her children, Michael Bell (Bill), Headley Bell (Nancy), Reynolds Bell (Susan) and Patricia McDowell. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Meredith Houston Maney (Fred), Jimmy Houston (Allison), Hillary, Whitney, and MacKenzie Bell, Price Bell (Beth), Alice Little (Peter), and Gardner Bell (Annie), Taylor Tricarico (Jim), True Baker (Nalise); and fourteen great grandchildren.
Mrs. Chandler was born in Lexington, KY and was educated at the University Training School in Lexington, Warrenton Country Day in Virginia and The Ethel Walker School in Connecticut. Afterward, she lived in Florida and Texas where she began her family. She then returned to central Kentucky where she had been inspired by her father’s career in the Thoroughbred business. Mr. Headley had been a successful breeder and owner and was a prime mover in the development of Keeneland Race Course and its attendant horse auction company.
Mr. Headley died in 1962, after which Mrs. Chandler launched Mill Ridge Farm on a parcel of his Beaumont Farm. She developed Mill Ridge into a large and prominent farm, breeding her own horses for sales and racing, and attracting owners of mares, stallions and yearlings as clients. Internationally, she followed in the footsteps of her father, who had acquired PHARAMOND II from Lord Derby of England with several partners and established him as a stallion at his Beaumont Farm. PHARAMOND II sired Headley’s 1937 champion two-year-old colt MENOW, which was trained by his nephew Duval Headley. The latter bred MENOW’s great son TOM FOOL.
In the case of Mrs. Chandler, a major development for international racing came when she bred the colt SIR IVOR and sold him as a yearling in the Keeneland Sales. In 1968, SIR IVOR won England’s classic Epsom Derby, one of the most prized races in the world. SIR IVOR descended from the female family of Mr. Headley’s foundation broodmare, ALCIBIADES.
SIR IVOR’s success was followed within a few years by Epsom Derby victories and other major victories for North American-breds such as NIJINSKY II, MILL REEF and ROBERTO. Thus, his classic victory was a harbinger of rising international prestige for American-breds which encouraged Europeans to deal in American bloodstock at Keeneland sales and elsewhere. In time, Keeneland became the preeminent location of Thoroughbred auctions in the world.
Mrs. Chandler, and her husband, John, whom she married in 1972, also developed a strong international clientele at Mill Ridge. One of the farm’s stallions, DIESIS, sired three winners of England’s classic Epsom Oaks. American clients included Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Moss, for whom Mill Ridge raised their 2005 Kentucky Derby winner, GIACOMO. Mill Ridge also raised POINT GIVEN, the Preakness and Belmont winner and Horse of the Year in 2001, for another client, Prince Ahmed Salman.
Like her father, Mrs. Chandler developed skills and savvy in many aspects of horsemanship and bluegrass agriculture. She bred three dozen stakes winners in her own name, including RASH STATEMENT, which provided a unique family moment by winning the 1960 Spinster Stakes in the colors of her father. The Spinster is the signature race of Keeneland’s autumn meet and had been established at a time when fillies and mares had fewer major opportunities than is true today. The Spinster victory by RASH STATEMENT, a granddaughter to ALCIBIADES, coincided with Keeneland’s silver anniversary dinner.
Years later, in 1998, Dr. and Mrs. Chandler won another revered Kentucky race, the Kentucky Oaks, with KEEPER HILL, a filly they owned in partnership with Audrey Otto and Shug McGaughey. In addition to a role with Mill Ridge, Dr. Chandler, a veterinarian, is President of the late Prince Khaled Abdullah’s internationally prominent Juddmonte Farm.
Mrs. Chandler also trained her own runners briefly and, typically, made her mark in that aspect of the sport. When she sent out NICOSIA to win the Sheridan Handicap at Arlington Park in 1976, she became the first female to be the breeder, owner, and trainer of the winner of a $100,000 race. The Sheridan was run at 1 ¼ miles on dirt, and NICOSIA’s time of 2:00 3/5 equaled the track record set by male champion TOM ROLFE. Then, Mrs. Chandler tested NICOSIA’s versatility as well as her own savvy by switching the filly to grass. They won the Arlington Matron over 1 1/8 miles. Mrs. Chandler also trained CIAO to win the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs that year.
Like her father, Mrs. Chandler dove into various organizational roles of leadership to help guide Thoroughbred racing as a sport and industry. She was president and principal mover in creation of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, which elevated owners and trainers in their relationship with Kentucky racetracks. She helped promote integrity in the sport as a member of the Kentucky State Racing Commission and the Kentucky Equine Drug Council.
Her devotion to the health and soundness of horses was illustrated by her chairmanship of the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell Gluck Equine Research Center and her stint as a trustee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, for which she chaired the international health committee. She is a member of The Jockey Club and has served on the boards of Keeneland Association and the Breeders’ Cup, and on committees of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Mrs. Chandler and her father both were elected to two of the most distinguished honors in Thoroughbred racing. In 2005, Mrs. Chandler was the honor guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America's Annual Testimonial Dinner, a distinction Mr. Headley received in 1941. In 2013, the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame established a new category, Pillars of the Turf, to celebrate the contributions to racing of distinguished leaders past and present. Mr. Headley was inducted into that exalted category in 2018. Two years later Mrs. Chandler was voted the same honor in the class of 2020. As Pillars of the Turf, Mrs. Chandler and her father joined multi-generational honorees from the Belmont, Phipps, Whitney, Hancock, and Chenery families. Another of the highest honors in racing, the Eclipse Award of Merit, was bestowed on Mrs. Chandler in 2008 and, her other honors included the National Association of Women Business Owners' Winner's Circle Award.
Much like her father, Mrs. Chandler’s example helped inspire her children to immerse themselves in the industry as well. Mike Bell is a trainer; Reynolds Bell is a bloodstock adviser and past president of TOBA; Headley Bell is Managing Partner of Mill Ridge Farm and Nicoma Bloodstock; Headley's son, Price, is General Manager of Mill Ridge Farm and President of Horse Country, an industry initiative which opens farms to tourism.
Mrs. Chandler’s services will occur on Monday, April 12th at St. Paul Catholic Church: Visitation from 10am-11:30am, Funeral Mass at 12pm. Interment will follow at Lexington Cemetery.
The pallbearers will be Randy Cuzick, Duncan Macdonald, Jonathan Mitchell, Donnie Snellings, Bayne Welker, and Marc Richardson.
Recognized honorary pallbearers will be James E. Bassett III, William T. Bishop III, Nick Nicholson, George Pruette, Don Robinson, William W. Thomason, Jr., George Cummins, Kim Poulin, Mary Miller, and Sarah Neeley.
In lieu of flowers, your preference of donation to the Lexington Humane Society or Woodford Humane Society or Blue Grass Farms Charities.
Rhonda and Gatrettsays
So sorry for your loss. What a great life to be celebrated!