Coldstream Farm

Historical Marker #166 in Fayette County notes the location of Coldstream Farm, which was originally part of Henry Price McGrath’s farm. McGrath was the owner of the famous race horse Aristides.

Henry Price McGrath was born near Keene in Jessamine County in 1814 into poor circumstances. He lived the early years of his life as an adventurer. McGrath moved from Kentucky to Mississippi as an apprentice tailor, and, when that life did not suit him, he pulled up stakes and headed for the gold fields of California. He moved to St. Louis in the early 1850s, where he ran a business, and then ended up in New Orleans, where he first became a thoroughbred owner. McGrath's travels were not over when the Civil War began. In 1863, he moved to New York City where he opened a gambling hall and restaurant.

McGrath's home state must have held a special place in his memory, because in the late 1860s he returned to Kentucky and established a horse farm near Lexington that he named McGrathiana. He then entered into the horse racing world in earnest.

McGrathiana produced some of the most noted horses of the day. One, Calvin, won the Belmont Stakes in 1875. That same year, another McGrath horse, Aristides, made history when he captured the first Kentucky Derby. Aristides was ridden that day by African American jockey Oliver Lewis.

McGrathiana produced more than horses. McGrath formed a partnership with Calvin Morgan, Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan’s brother, in a hemp business. He also raised other livestock on the farm, including cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. In 1881, after a spell of ill health, McGrath ventured to coastal Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he hoped a change of climate might do some good. He died there on July 5.

The following year, McGrathiana was sold at auction to Milton Young, another noted horse breeder and turf man. The farm changed hands several more times before it was purchased by C. B. Shaffer. Shaffer also bought a neighboring stud farm, Coldstream. He combined all of the land into one operation under the Coldstream Farm name. Coldstream Farm now belongs to the University of Kentucky and is part of its agricultural school.

Historical marker #166 was originally dedicated in 1962.

The marker reads:

Coldstream Farm
Famous Kentucky horse farm. Known earlier as McGrathiana. The home of Aristides, the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.