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Darby Dan History


At the beginning of the 20th century, the legendary Colonel E. R. Bradley developed a top-rate equine facility and assembled breeding stock mostly from Europe at his farm he named Idle Hour. The colorful and popular Bradley produced four Kentucky Derby winners: BEHAVE YOURSELF, BUBBLING OVER, BURGOO KING and BROKERS TIP. After Colonel Bradley’s death, John W. Galbreath purchased the core property of Idle Hour in the mid 50’s.

Re-naming the farm Darby Dan, John Galbreath’s impact on the sport was quick and profound. In 1961, Galbreath imported the undefeated (16 for 16) European superstar RIBOT from Europe. The effort paid large returns when Ribot’s progeny were successful at the race track, and his sons GRAUSTARK and HIS MAJESTY proved very successful in the decades that followed. He also engineered the lease of the great European horse SEA-BIRD, as well as the acquisition of Kentucky Derby hero SWAPS, and Horse of the Year SWORD DANCER.

On a similar time track, the Galbreath family also acquired control of the Major League baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Under their ownership, the Pirates won the World Series in 1960, 1971 and 1979. The family often named horses to honor their team and its star players. HAIL THE PIRATES, OUR CAPTAIN WILLIE (Willie Stargell) and ROBERTO (Roberto Clemente) were all successful Stakes winning race horses.

In 1963 and 1967, Darby Dan added to the farm’s classic heritage, with CHATEAUGAY’s and PROUD CLARION’s victories in the Kentucky Derby. In 1972, Darby Dan’s homebred ROBERTO bested favored Rheingold in the English Derby at the famous Epsom course. 1974 saw Darby Dan’s eventual three year old champion, LITTLE CURRENT win the Preakness and Belmont. 1978 witnessed the elegant running of TEMPEST QUEEN to a filly and mare Championship. Then in 1985, Darby Dan’s PROUD TRUTH won the Breeder’s Cup Classic, making Darby Dan the only farm in history to accomplish the coveted trinity of races, the Kentucky Derby, the English Derby and the Breeder’s Cup Classic.

Leaving behind not only a beautiful farm and superior bloodstock, Galbreath’s grandson, John Phillips, remains committed to this heritage. The late 80’s saw two top Grade 1 winners in Champion, SUNSHINE FOREVER, and Florida Derby winner and subsequent leading Japanese sire, BRIAN’S TIME. The 1990’s added an impressive list of Grade 1 winners including Japanese two year old Champion colt GRASS WONDER, and fillies and mares TRIBULATION, PLENTY OF GRACE, MEMORIES OF SILVER and 1999 Champion Turf Mare SOARING SOFTLY. In 2004, Darby Dan was represented by Grade I winning turf mare WONDER AGAIN. Most recently, the popular multiple Grade 1 winner WINTER MEMORIES added to the tradition of breathtaking winners. Current star performers include RECEPTA and TIME AND MOTION.

Since the days of Colonel Bradley, horse racing and breeding has changed considerably. Similarly, Darby Dan has made the transition from private facility to a commercial one, offering a full array of services. At Darby Dan, there are over 150 mares owned by thoroughbred enthusiasts from all over the world, and a roster of stallions whose performances include a Preakness, Metropolitan Mile, Florida Derby and other prestigious races.

Rooted in a distinguished private history and now flourishing in the commercial present, Darby Dan is a special farm committed to its motto: Devoted to the horse. Dedicated to our clients.