A rare weathervane depicting the thoroughbred stallion Lexington, is expected to bring $35,000 at the ninth annual Sporting Art Auction in Kentucky this weekend. Check out the link to the catalog of items as there are some fabulous paintings and bronzes being auctioned off.
The hollow-body Lexington copper weathervane has a cast zinc head is attributed to the New York maker A.B. & W.T. Westervelt where it appears in their 1883 catalog. The weathervane has a rich from years of exposure to the elements. Curiously, it also has several bullet holes.
Born in 1850 and originally named Darley, by his breeder, Dr. Elisha Warfield, the colt was leased to Henry Brown, an African-American trainer. Since no black man — free or slave — could race a horse in his own name, Darley raced under Dr. Warfield’s colors. He first started as a three year old and in his first race, bolted (with several others) from the start, running more than two miles before the race officially began. Despite the warm-up, Darley led wire to wire in both the first and second heats.
After this stunning debut, Darley was purchased by Richard Ten Broeck on behalf of a syndicate, for $5000. He later bought the horse for himself and renamed him Lexington, in honor of the Kentucky city. Lexington won six out of seven starts, earning $56,000 (the third highest money earner of his generation). He was retired to stud as he (like his sire before him) was going blind.
Although he was successful as a racehorse, his influence at stud was significant. He was the most successful sire of the second half of the 19th century and was the leading North American sire 16 times. Lexington sired some 600 foals, over one-third of which were winners. Combined they earned $1,159,321. Considering most of these were racing during the Civil War when purses were small, these winnings were substantial.
Edward Troye’s classic portrait of Lexington was the inspiration behind Lexington’s blue horse found on signs around the city, and the inspiration behind the logo used by VistLEX, the convention and visitors bureau for Lexington. The Westervelt weathervane is believed to have inspired Kenneth Lynch’s vane of Nashua, which tops the Keeneland sales pavilion.