We raise racehorses right.

Mt. Brilliant’s legendary place in horse-racing history is forged by an ethos of unwavering dedication and care. We raise racehorses right — on land as nature intended and by people who care deeply. Because when we care equally for people, horse, and land, we produce incredible horses and preserve irreplaceable Kentucky farmland for future generations.

Our Values

Relentlessness + Confidence

We believe excellence is in the details, in every small decision. From the way we treat our people to how we tend our land, we do things the right way, the whole way through.

Reverence + Care

Land is sacred. Our farm was here before us and will be here long after we’re gone. When we act as stewards of the land, caring equally for our people and our horses, we positively impact our neighbors and future generations. A heart for the land is contagious.

Beauty + Imagination

We draw inspiration from our landscape — the joyful first bloom of spring, the first turning leaves, the first blanket of snow. It lends us the perspective we need to imagine a better future.

Farm history

1774

Thomas Jefferson grants 2,000 acres of land north of the Kentucky river to William Russell in recognition of his son’s outstanding military service in the French and Indian War.

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1785

The Russells add 800 acres, including the mystical cave (now Russell Cave) to the farm.

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1792

Russell builds the central portion of the house.

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1807

The 1807 book, “Tour of the West”, writes that Mt. Brilliant lacks “only the vineyards” in its similarity to the French Provincial regions of Languedoc and Provence.

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1824

Russell dies in 1824, and the farm is split between his two youngest sons.

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1843

Cassius Clay miraculously survives a duel with Samuel Brown on the farm, near Russell Cave.

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1863

The heirs sell the farm. Over the next several decades, the farm changes hands several times.

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1905

Mt. Brilliant is purchased by James Ben Ali Haggin. The Haggin family owns the farm for the next 85 years. It becomes a fixture in the Kentucky political and social scene in the 20th Century.

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1995

The Goodman family purchases and restores Mt. Brilliant to its full splendor.

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2002

Mt. Brilliant is recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects Design Awards. The gardens include a kitchen garden full of berries, herbs and vegetables, a formal English flower garden surrounding a pond, lines of dogwood trees and rose bushes, and a twisting and winding taxus maze.

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2022

Mt. Brilliant sprawls over 1,300 acres of carefully manicured grasses lined with horse fences and featuring several newly renovated barns and polo fields. Every year, the farm raises thoroughbreds for the fall yearling sales.

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Historic horses

Domino

1891 - July 29, 1887

Over the years many horses have called Mt. Brilliant home, but none so great as the legendary Domino. This distinguished foundation sire was born and laid to rest amid the beautiful surroundings of this tranquil farm. Domino is best known for being the only horse to be the leading money-winner in his first year of racing. Owner James Keene immortalized Domino in his epitaph as “the fleetest of runners the American Turf has ever known and one of the gamest and most generous of horses.”

Over the years many horses have called Mt. Brilliant home, but none so great as the legendary Domino. This distinguished foundation sire was born and laid to rest amid the beautiful surroundings of this tranquil farm. Domino is best known for being the only horse to be the leading money-winner in his first year of racing. Owner James Keene immortalized Domino in his epitaph as “the fleetest of runners the American Turf has ever known and one of the gamest and most generous of horses.”

Domino Facts

Owner: James R. & Foxhall P. Keene
Breeder: Major Barak G.Thomas
State Bred: KY
Winnings: 25 Starts: 19 – 2 – 1, $193,550

Race Record

At 2: won – Great Eclipse S., Belmont Futurity S., Great American S., Great Trial S., Hyde Park S., Matron S., Produce S.
At 3: Withers S., Flying S., Culver S., Ocean H., Third Special.
At 4: Coney Island H., Sheepshead Bay S., 2nd Coney Island Fall H.(133 lbs., conceding 24 lbs to the winner)

Man O’ War

March 29, 1917 - July 29, 1947

From the prominent sire Fair Play, out of the mare, Mahubah, Man O’War was owned and bred by August Belmont, Jr. (1851-1924). August Belmont Jr. joined the United States Army at age 65 to serve in France during World War I. While overseas, his wife named the new foal “Man o’ War” in honor of her husband. However, when the Belmonts made the decision to liquidate their racing stable and at the Saratoga yearling sale in 1918, Man O’ War was sold to Samuel D. Riddle for $5,000 who owned him during his racing and stud careers.

Man O’War stood his first stud season at Hinata Farm, then the following year moved to Faraway Farm where he joined an old acquaintance Golden Broom. His groom at Faraway was Will Harbut who came to be closely associated with the horse. Harbut gladly showed the stallion to farm visitors and spoke at length of Man o’War’s victories. Before long, Harbut’s words were picked up through national magazines, and the whole country was quoting his now famous phrase “He wuz de mostest hoss… “


Man O’War was an outstanding sire, and might have been even better if Riddle had offered more than a handful of public seasons each year. Some of his famous offspring are WAR ADMIRAL,CRUSADER, AMERICAN FLAG, BATEAU, MARS, MAID AT ARMS, CLYDE VAN DUSEN,WAR RELIC, and BATTLESHIP (who won the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree England even though they said he was too small to be a good jumper.) One of his famous grandsons was SEABISCUIT.


Man O’War died quietly on November 1, 1947 at the age of 30. He was embalmed and lay in state for three days while his final resting place was prepared in a portion of his old paddock. He was lowered into a moated enclosure, beneath a green marble pedestal from which rose Herbert Hazeltine’s heroic bronze statue of the champion. Man O’War was eventually moved to the Kentucky Horse Park, where the original burial site was faithfully recreated. More than 50 years after his death, he still attracts thousands of visitors annually. And they still consider him to be the “mostest hoss.”

Man O’ War Facts

Chestnut colt, 1917.
By Fair Play – Mahubah by *Rock Sand.
Born: March 29, 1917, at Nursery Stud, Lexington, Kentucky
Died: November 1, 1947 (age 30), at Faraway Farm.First buried at Faraway and subsequently moved and buried at the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky

Year
Age
Starts
1st
2nd
3rd
unp.
Earnings
1919
3
10
9
1
0
0
$83,325
9999
3
11
11
0
0
0
$166,140
total
21
21
1
0
0
$249,465

Stakes Record:

at 2:
won – Keene Memorial Stakes
won – Youthful Stakes
won – Hudson Stakes ………… (carrying 130 lbs)
won – Tremont Stakes ……….. (carrying 130 lbs)
won – United States Hotel Stakes (carrying 130 lbs)
won – Grand Union Hotel Stakes.. (carrying 130 lbs)
won – Hopeful Stakes ……….. (carrying 130 lbs)
won – Belmont Futurity ……… (carrying 127 lbs)
2nd – Sanford Stakes
Champion 2yo Colt

at 3:
won – Preakness Stakeswon – Belmont Stakes ……….. (won by 20 lengths)
won – Dwyer Stakeswon – Withers Stakes
won – Stuyvesant Handicap …… (carrying 135 lbs)
won – Miller Stakes
won – Travers Stakes

won – Lawrence Realization  (won by estimated 100 lengths)
won – Jockey Club Stakes ……. (won by 15 lengths)
won – Potomac Handicap ……… (carrying 138 lbs)
won – Kenilworth Park Gold Cup
Horse of the Year
Champion 3yo Colt

Russell Cave

One of Lexington’s most treasured landmarks, Russell Cave, lies on the property of Mt. Brilliant. The cave and its never-failing spring were home to several important political rallies in the early 19th century. It was at one of these rallies in 1843 that anti-slavery leader Cassius Marcellus Clay was involved in a duel that nearly cost him his life.


His opponent, Samuel Brown, surprised Clay by hitting him from behind as Clay was heckling one of the evening’s speakers. Before most of the crowd knew what was happening, Brown’s quick draw sent a bullet sailing straight for Clay’s heart.

Clay was saved by a stroke of unbelievable luck when the bullet ricocheted off the silver-lined sheath of his Bowie knife, leaving nothing but a red mark above his heart.


Legend is that Clay was so furious that he attacked Brown, splitting his head open, cutting off his ear and gouging out one of his eyes. For this gruesome attack, Clay was tried in court for mayhem. Luckily, Clay’s  cousin Henry Clay was able to get him acquitted by claiming that Cassius Clay was simply acting in the manner suitable for a Kentuckian.