Historical Marker #1470 in Fayette County notes the many achievements of Wing Commander, a saddle horse who went undefeated in competition for seven years and won more than two hundred championships.
When one thinks of Kentucky horses, thoroughbred racers kicking up dirt around a track most often come to mind. However, an impressive five-gaited saddle horse once ruled the show competition circuit and earned fame for his successes. Unlike thoroughbreds—who had always been bred for speed—saddle horses were raised for comfortable riding. Over time a competitive spirit developed among saddle horse breeders, which eventually evolved into judged shows of beautiful horse elegance.
Wing Commander, who was foaled at Dodge Stables on Meadowbrook Farm in Rochester, Michigan, in 1943, was trained by Earl Teater at Castleton Farms in Fayette County, Kentucky. Castleton Farm was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Van Lennep. Frances Dodge Van Lennep was the daughter of automotive pioneer John Dodge. Wing Commander was the bloodline product of Anacacho Shamrock and Flirtation Walk.
Wing Commander's victories began in 1946 as a three-year-old. Over the next several years, Wing Commander tallied up win after win. Only defeated twice in his career—and then competing against older more experienced horses—he went undefeated from 1948-54. Over a nine year career Wing Commander won more than two hundred championships.
After an amazing career, Wing Commander was retired to stud at Castleton Farm in 1955. His ability to produce championship offspring was almost as impressive as his run of victories. He sired six world champions, including noted saddlebred horses Wingmaster, Yorktown, Tinsel Wings, and Commander’s Countess.
Wing Commander died at Castleton Farm in 1969 from colic. He was twenty-six years old. His legacy as the foremost saddle horse in history, and his record as a five-gaited saddle horse, is likely to go unmatched.