08/01/2014 4:22PM

Bertha Wright of Calumet dies


Bertha Wright, widow of Warren Wright Jr. and a member of the family that oversaw the operation of Central Kentucky’s iconic Calumet Farm, died in Lexington on Thursday at age 94.

A native of Alexandria, Va., Wright married Warren Wright Jr. in 1943 and lived at Calumet twice during the Lexington farm’s run as one of the 20th century’s preeminent breeding and racing entities. Under the stewardship of Warren Wright Sr. and, after his death, his wife Lucille Wright Markey, Calumet produced eight Kentucky Derby winners, including Triple Crown winners Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948).

Bertha Wright inherited Warren Wright Jr.’s interest in Calumet following her husband’s death in 1978 and assumed ownership of Calumet following Lucille Markey’s death in 1982. The farm eventually endured financial decline during the early 1990s and was sold at auction. Former Keeneland chairman Ted Bassett told the Lexington Herald-Leader Friday that Bertha Wright was instrumental in preserving Calumet’s racing trophies following the farm’s bankruptcy, which are now assembled at the Kentucky Horse Park’s International Museum of the Horse.

“Ms. Wright was an extremely kind, courteous, and friendly person who felt a real responsibility as a citizen of this community,” Bassett said.

Brad Kelley, formerly of Bluegrass Hall, leased Calumet in 2012 and won the 2013 Preakness with Oxbow under the Calumet name, although the farm’s famous red and blue silks were auctioned off during its bankruptcy.

Wright is survived by children Courtenay Lancaster, Lucille Drinkwater, Warren Wright III, and Thomas C. Wright.

Funeral services will be Monday, Aug. 4, at 11 a.m. Eastern at Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington, followed by burial in Lexington Cemetery. Visitation will be Sunday, Aug. 3, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Milward Bros. Funeral Home on North Broadway in Lexington.

*** Correction: The red and blue silks worn by Calumet during its era under the Wrights's ownership were originally misidentified.