lawrence 'brownie' brown
Lawrence Brown was born in Niles, Michigan on March 21, 1887. His father was not a horseman but "Brownie" was, and as a youngster the local livery stable was his second home. When he was fifteen he took his first stock farm job, as a groom. During the winter of 1910, Brown went to Walnut Hall Farm, Lexington, Kentucky as a part-time groom for Lamon V. Harkness, founder of Walnut Hall Farm. He worked summers for Thomas W. Murphy as the "advance man" for the Grand Circuit. In 1916 Brown signed up full-time with Walnut Hall Farm and so began a career, in service at the Standardbred nursery, that spanned four generations of ownership.
Brown was a natural, practical horseman. His success stemmed from his genuine love for the horses that were his life, his honesty and his extraordinary ability to size up a young horse. Early in his career great horses under his supervision included Immortals, Guy Axworthy and Peter Volo.
Brown served in the U.S. Army, as stable sergeant during the 1914-1918 Great War, after which he returned to Walnut Hall Farm. From 1929 until 1934 he was the farm superintendent for Hanover Shoe Farms.
At 47, Brown returned to Walnut Hall Farm as farm superintendent. He held the position from 1934 until 1955. It was "Brownie" who made the important and far-reaching decision to change the location of the farm's yearling sales from New York to Lexington, Kentucky.
Brown had a significant influence on the development of the modern trotter and pacer. The bloodlines of the great horses that resided at the Farm - Volomite, Scotland, Margaret Arion, and Margaret Castleton - have so deeply affected Standardbred breeding that nearly all Standardbreds racing today can trace their heritage back to the patriarchs of Walnut Hall Farm. Upon his retirement from active management in 1955, Lawrence Brown was retained as a consultant. The "yearling man" died on October 17, 1962 in Lexington, Kentucky.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 2000 Souvenir Journal