Successful attorney, investor and rancher; Haggin established one of the largest horse breeding operations in the world and a model dairy farm.
1822-1914 | Artist: Ernest Sigmund Klempner (1867-1941)
Impact & Accomplishments
Kentuckian James B. A. Haggin was one of the wealthiest men of his lifetime, owning 400,000 acres of land in California, 10,000 acres in the Bluegrass State, some of the richest metals mines, and some of the fastest racehorses in the world.
Born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, grandson of one of the state’s earliest settlers, Haggin was educated at Centre College and began practicing law. In 1850, he moved to California to open a law office with Lloyd Tevis, who later became his partner in several mines during the Gold Rush days. He and Tevis purchased the Rancho Del Paso near Sacramento in 1862 and established one of the largest horse breeding operations in world history. In 1904, 1,500 of the 7,000 broodmares registered in the official Stud Book belonged to James Haggin.
Haggin’s horse, Ben Ali (his Turkish mother’s maiden name), won the 1886 Kentucky Derby. Salvator and Firenze were Hall of Fame Thoroughbreds. In 1897, James Haggin acquired Elmendorf Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and by 1905 had shifted all of his horse operations there. He also established a model dairy on the land.
Just prior to his death at age eighty-seven, Haggin founded the James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The Ben Ali Stakes race at Keeneland, in Lexington, is named for him.
Did You Know?
The first record of Dexter cattle in the United States is when more than two hundred head were imported between 1905 and 1915, a large number of which were imported by Elmendorf Farm.
Haggin's Salvator was a good 2-year-old but became the best 3-year-old of his year, and was the nation’s undefeated champion. In 1890 his match race that year was with the stubborn Tenny, in which he set an American record for 1 1/4 miles (2:05) when winning by a nose. Salvator also beat Tenny in the Champion Stakes, and in his final start set another American record of 1:35 2/5 for a mile race at Monmouth Park. Photo courtesy of Blood Horse.
Salvator was shifted from California to stand at Elmendorf late in 1900 and lived out his days in the monumental stallion barn that Haggin had built for him. Photo courtesy of Lexington History Museum.
Mt. Haggin is a 10,607 foot peak overlooking the little city of Anaconda, Montana, on the west slope of the Great Divide. It was named for a principal in the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, James Ben Ali Haggin. Photo by Michael Darcy at SummitPost.org