Our Farm History
Take a step back in time, and listen, or read through Dixiana Farm’s storied history starting in 1877. Dixiana has been home to many great men and women as well as countless great horses over the last 142 years. This land is rich with history and tradition. We strive to continue and honor the tradition of this majestic farm everyday through the success of our current operation. Kentucky is blessed with this true gem in the heart of horse country.
Major Barak G. Thomas
- Dixiana Farm, formerly known as Hamilton Stud, was purchased in 1877, by Major Barak G. Thomas, a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, and later Sheriff of Fayette County. He named the farm Dixiana after his favorite broodmare, Dixie.
- Major Thomas is thought to be one of the first men to make his sole living by breeding and selling the stock, and his results were immediate. He took the breeding world by storm with his two colts Himyar and Domino.
- Foaled at Dixiana Farm, out of a mare named Hira (who was by the great foundation sire Lexington). Himyar was famous for being temperamental, yet was steadfast on the track with an illustrious racing career that spanned four years, highlighted with a second-place finish in the 1878 Kentucky Derby to Day Star.
- Himyar’s toughness and versatility transcended beyond the racetrack into his stallion career. Himyar stood at stud for 16 years at Dixiana Farm. He sired 1898 Kentucky Derby winner, Plaudit, and many other notable racehorses, but his most famous was Domino.
1890-1924 “Change of Hands”
- Due to disappointing sale prices and unsettled debts, Major Thomas found himself forced to sell the farm named for his beloved mare. First, the farm was passed to Jacob Sechler Coxey, who only held the farm for a couple of years. Coxey is most famously known for his “Industrial Army” know as “Coxey’s Army,” who marched in Washington D.C. during the Economic Depression of the 1890s.
- Dixiana then passed from Coxey to Major Thomas J. Carson. Carson, also a well-respected Thoroughbred breeder, produced such champions as the great sprinters Roseben and Highball. Once again though due to hard times, Dixiana changed hands after just a few years.
- Ben Ali Haggin then acquired Dixiana to become part of his prestigious Elmendorf Farm, and for the next seventeen years, Dixiana was used primarily for crops and tobacco.
The Black Whirlwind
- Bred and born at Dixiana Farm, Domino later sold at auction in 1892 for $3,000 to James R. Keene. Commonly known as the “brown phenomenon” or “black whirlwind,” Domino was a horse of extreme speed at short distances and thought to be the fastest horse of his time. He was undefeated at age 2 and went on to be named Champion Two-Year-Old and 1893 Horse of the Year. Although Domino only lived to the age of 6, his achievements at stud were remarkable. Domino sired 19 named foals, 8 of which went on to become stakes race winners. Even today, many racehorses can trace their lineage back to the great Domino
- Domino was returned to Major Thomas upon his death and laid to rest at his Hira Villa Farm (now part of Mt. Brilliant Farm). His headstone reads most appropriately, “Here lies the fleetest of runners the American Turf has ever known, and one of the gamest and most generous of horses.”
James Cox Brady
- James Cox Brady, a famous traction magnate from New York was next in line to take over the ownership of Dixiana. He spent a substantial amount of money to restore the farm to its famous Thoroughbred nursery status.
- James Brady was the son of millionaire Anthony N. Brady who in 1900 was the largest shareholder of the American Tobacco Company. His fortune was passed down to his son and in 1918, James Cox Brady was one of the thirty richest Americans. Brady only held onto the farm for three years before passing away. However, during his time at Dixiana, he possessed a successful racing operation.
Charles T. Fisher
- In 1928, Charles T. Fisher of Detroit and his wife Sarah, purchased Dixiana, (which at the time was approximately 900 acres) for $240,000. Fisher, along with his brothers’, founded the Fisher Body Company which produced auto bodies for companies such as Cadillac and Ford. In 1919, General Motors purchased Fisher Body Company for a reported 27 million dollars.
- The success the farm once enjoyed under its founder Major Barak G. Thomas was soon to replicate itself, only on a much larger scale.
- The accomplishments of Charles Fisher in the auto industry spilled over into his Thoroughbred and Saddlebred pursuits. The list of runners produced during the Fisher era is long and distinguished, including the great Mata Hari, Sweep All, Cee Tee, Sirocco, Amber Light, Spy Song, Star Reward, and Sub Fleet.
1930 – 1945 “Fisher Era”
- During the 1930s, Dixiana also enjoyed prosperity and notoriety as a saddle horse farm. Charles and Sarahs daughter, Mary V. Fisher was an accomplished gaited horse show woman. She was awarded the honors of being the first saddle horse rider inducted into the National Horse Show Hall of Fame and then later inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame. During this time, Dixiana Farm was home to five-gaited champion Beau Woolf.
- Perhaps Mary’s most important role came towards the end of her father’s life (1963) when she took over the management of Dixiana. The farm continued to prosper and continued to produce great runners such as Red Cross, Fulvous and Fulcrum (Lane’s End Breeders Futurity 1957).
- Foaled in 1931 at Dixiana, Mata Hari was an outstanding racehorse and broodmare for the Fishers’. She was a multiple stakes winner and beat all the boys in the 1933 Breeders’ Futurity. She couldn’t catch them all in the 1934 Kentucky Derby finishing 4th but came back to beat them again in the Illinois Derby in a grand fashion setting a new track record. She was Champion Filly two years in a row 1933 & 1934. It’s no surprise that when you look at Mata Hari’s pedigree you see Domino listed as her great grandsire.
- Mata Hari was also quite the character herself. It’s said that she would not tolerate being vanned. So, when it was time for her to be bred Mr. Fisher had to choose stud farms close enough she could be walked over by hand. Mata Hari’s best son was a colt named Spy Song. He won the 1945 Arlington Futurity and was 2nd that year in the Kentucky Derby.
Dixiana Farm Split
- Dixiana remained intact until 1947 when Fisher sold about half of the acreage to Royce G. Martin, who then launched Woodvale Stud. That property was resold several times and later became Domino Stud.
End of a Legacy
- Once again Dixiana was sold after a legacy of 58 years within the Fisher family.
- Mary Lou Wibel, a businesswoman from Tennessee, purchased Dixiana for $5,953,400 with partner Bruce Kline, also farm manager. They soon turned the farm into a successful commercial breeding and boarding operation. During the late ’80s and ’90s, Dixiana was 300 acres with another 265 acres on lease. It was home to legendary stallions such as Mr. Greeley and Fly Till Dawn.
- In 1999 the farm made its mark in the sales ring by selling a record priced $3.9 million-dollar colt by Kris S. at that year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Dixiana was also home to other champions such as Fly so Free, Champion 2-year-old male of 1990, who was broke and prepped there as well as 1997 Epsom Derby winner Benny the Dip.
- Mary Wibel put Dixiana Farm on the market to be passed on once again. After her ownership of nearly 20 years, the farm was purchased in 2004 by Gainesville, Florida businessman and current owner William Shively.
- At the time, Mr. Shively was the owner of Tomoka Hills Farm in Florida (which produced Florida Older Horse of the Year and Sprint Champion Benny the Bull) and also Elk Hill Farm which is adjacent to Dixiana.
A Whole Once Again
- In May 2009, Mr. Shively purchased Domino Stud, the half of the original Dixiana Farm that was sold off in 1947, from the widow of owner Kenneth Jones who died at the age of 90 in October 2008. For the first time in more than 60 years, the historic Dixiana Farm is now restored to its original acreage under one owner.
Old Mansion Revival
- After many years of sitting with dignity and grace on the hill overlooking the Elkhorn River, the main Dixiana Farm House & Guest House, rumored to be a part of the underground railroad, was restored to her original beauty, both inside and out in 2018.