Preston West Madden

Tuesday 24th of July 1934 - Tuesday 5th of May 2020

Preston West Madden

Preston West Madden passed away at home on May 5, 2020.  Born July 24, 1934, in Lexington, Kentucky, he was the son of J. Edward Madden Jr. and Winifred West Madden Morriss.  He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Anita Madden.  Survivors include his son Patrick Winchester Madden, his wife Jennifer, grandchildren Caroline Winchester Madden and Michael Rawlings Madden, sister-in-law Patricia Fletcher Madden, nieces Winifred Madden (Philippe) Chavance of Paris, France and Preston (Pem) Madden (Kevin) Ausbrook, grand-nephews Antoine West Chavance and Aden Patrick Ausbrook and brother-in-law Marc (Terri) Stuart of Plano, TX.  Preston’s maternal grandmother Bessie Shelby was a descendent of Isaac Shelby, Kentucky’s first governor.  Mr. Madden graduated from Culver Military Academy, attended Stanford University and the University of Kentucky.

Preston Madden once said, “Thoroughbred horses are my life, they have always been my life, and they always will be.” To those who knew him there is no question Preston lived these words. His passion for the thoroughbred industry is legendary, as are his successes.

Apart from educational and military service, Hamburg Place was always home for Preston. He often roamed the fields and paddocks of his beloved farm.  In 1956 he took over the management of the 2000-acre farm founded in 1898 by his grandfather John E. Madden, known as the Wizard of the Turf.

Hamburg Place was home to many great thoroughbreds during John E. Madden’s lifetime - five Kentucky Derby winners including the first Triple Crown winner Sir Barton and a total of 182 stakes winners. Continuing the distinguished tradition of breeding champions at Hamburg Place, Preston realized his lifelong dream of winning a Kentucky Derby in 1987 with Alysheba. Alysheba was one of the 27 stakes winners he bred. Preston’s Derby winner won two legs of the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes) in 1987 and became the world’s leading money-winning thoroughbred while racing in 1988. He was America’s Horse of the Year in 1988 after winning that year’s Breeders’ Cup.

In 1993, Ray Paulick reported in The Blood Horse what winning the Kentucky Derby meant to Preston. “It is my raison d’être. My reason for living is two minutes and a couple of seconds at Churchill Downs in May.”

A favorite of Preston’s standing at Hamburg Place was T.V. Lark, who won the 1960 Arlington Classic, the Washington Park Handicap, and the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap. In 1961 T.V. Lark was voted the Grass Horse of the Year after defeating Kelso in the Washington D.C. International, an award that is now part of the Eclipse Awards. In 1974, Preston owned two stallions, T.V. Lark and Amber Morn. T.V. Lark was the leading sire in terms of progeny earnings and Amber Morn was the leading sire in terms of number of races won.  Pink Pigeon (1964-1976) was a seven-time stakes winning filly owned and bred by Preston at Hamburg Place. Pink Pigeon won the Santa Barbara Stakes in record time 1.58 1/5 for a mile and a quarter in March 1969. Over the years, the Madden family owned many valuable racehorses, including the more famous Star Shoot and Old Rosebud.

Preston was fond of saying, “My heart is pure; therefore, I am unafraid.” His life  illustrated this idea.  At age 16, Preston was the country’s National Steeplechase Champion and had earned his pilot’s license. He frequently travelled the world, climbing the Matterhorn and Mount Kilimanjaro and trekking in Nepal to the base camp of Mt. Everest.  Preston also enjoyed sky diving, cliff diving in Acapulco, visiting the pyramids in Egypt, exploring Machu Picchu in Peru and going on expeditions to the rain forests of South America.  In 2002, Culver Academy named Preston to its Horsemanship Hall of Fame.

Another of Preston’s favorite sayings was that, “It is more important to be a successful sire than to be a successful racehorse.”  Preston believed he had accomplished that goal. He was fond of asking, “What’s the most important thing?” The correct answer always was “the next generation.”

Preston and Anita loved their only son and his family, their horses, and their many friends they made in Kentucky and around the world. Their famous Derby parties will never be duplicated or forgotten, nor will their intellect, generosity and charm.

Recently, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Preston enjoyed spending time talking via Zoom with his son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, grandson and friends.

Mr. Madden and his family are grateful for the devotion shown by his caregivers and the life-long friendship of the Washington family.  A celebration of life may be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Bluegrass Boys' Ranch, P.O. Box 12128, Lexington, Kentucky 40580. 

Guest Book

Tommy Kidwell


" My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Preston a true Kentucky Treasure that will not be forgotten.

1 year ago

Marsha McDaniel Caton


I am so sorry for your loss. It hard to say good bye to your parents. Please accept my deepest sympathy to all of the family.

1 year ago