Rare Kentucky horse racing memorabilia tells story

Published 9:11 pm Friday, August 2, 2019


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Question: Mr. Sampson, what is this badge that I found? I could have Googled it more, but I didn’t really find much out there on it. I know that he was famous in the thoroughbred industry, but what was this for? Thank you for taking the time for an old lady. I love your articles. Does it hurt the value that the ribbon is torn? I didn’t do it. Thank you again.

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Answer: What a great piece of horse racing history. Like you, I did some basic research, and had to reach out to a horse racing friend who has far more knowledge than I ever will in this field.

Here is what you have, and what makes it so cool. This is a medal, as opposed to a badge. It’s a medal from the Thoroughbred Club of America, honoring Edward Riley Bradley. The Thoroughbred Club of America was originally created in the Phoenix Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1932. It since has grown in prestige to encompass members from Europe, South Africa, Canada and Mexico, as well as, the entire United States. It’s a membership based club and is very exclusive. It is currently location on Rice

Road in Lexington.

Colonel Bradley, as he was sometimes known by, was a steel mill laborer, gold miner, businessman and philanthropist. He often told that he was a friend to Wyatt Earp. But it was his work as a preeminent owner, and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses in the southern United States that made him an icon in his field.

Mr. Bradley was born in Pennsylvania in 1859 and died in Florida in 1946. He made the cover of Time Magazine in the May 1934 issue and in the year 2000 was deemed one of the “Great Floridians” by the state of Florida.

Mr. Bradley was the first honoree at the very first testimonial dinner held at the Thoroughbred Club in 1932. We know that they were honoring him, as he is not listed as one of the founding members, nor was he on the original board of the club.

And those colors on the ribbon? They are Bradley’s racing silk colors. This medal was a special event presentation. Not a piece that has been used since. It’s no one’s fault that the silk ribbon has shattered. It’s a natural occurrence in the way that the ribbon was treated when made. I’m just glad that it’s still present.

I think this is a very interesting, if not rare, piece of horse racing and Kentucky history. Pricing this is tough. I think in a normal market it should be priced, even with the ribbon condition, for about $75. That could be very conservative. However, I think in the right circumstances it could go through the roof — with the right people aware of it and bidding hotly for it.

Thanks for sharing it with us.