Smithsonian Snapshot: Lexington Racehorse

Lexington Racehorse, 1878; Photo courtesy of the International Museum of the Horse

This week’s Smithsonian Snapshot looks at the skeleton of Lexington, the “Official Horse of Bluegrass Country.” Known as one of the greatest racehorses of his day and sire to more winning horses than any other American thoroughbred before or since, Lexington (1850-1875) is a symbol of the town of Lexington, KY.

Originally exhibited in the Osteology Hall at the National Museum of Natural History, Lexington was moved to the National Museum of American History in 1999 to be included in the exhibition “On Time.” His skeleton provided context to the story of the first mass-produced stopwatch that split time into fractions of seconds, allegedly developed to time Lexington’s feats on the racetrack.

In 2010 a team of conservators and specialists at NMNH prepared to return Lexington’s skeleton to his birthplace. They cleaned the bones, made minor repairs, and prepared the skeleton for travel to the International Museum of the Horse, where the skeleton had been approved for loan just in time for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky—the first time these games had ever been held outside Europe.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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