Demolition crews are at work this week taking down the former home of the Mission Road Antique Mall at Corinth Square South — a facility that played a role in the rise of one of horse racing’s most storied trainers.
Prior to its conversion to a commercial property, part of the building served as a stable used by the Woolford Farms horse operation in what was then an unincorporated part of Johnson County. Herbert Woolf, who had inherited his family’s Woolf Brothers clothing company, purchased a swath of land between 79th Street and 83rd Street from Alexander Majors in 1921 and converted it into a horse and cattle raising operation. In 1931, Woolf hired a 48-year-old horse trainer named Ben Jones who had made a name for himself on the racing circuits in the American west and part of Mexico.
Jones helped train Insco, a thoroughbred that Woolf had gotten for a steal after he was the only one to show up at the auction during an intense rainstorm. He also trained Insco’s progeny Lawrin, who was sired with dam Margaret Lawrence at Woolford Farms in the 1935.
On May 7, 1938, Lawrin surprised the horse racing world by taking that year’s Kentucky Derby, becoming the first horse from west of the Mississippi to win the sport’s top title. Here’s a newsreel from the event:
The win made Jones a hot commodity, and the following season he was recruited away to Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kent. Over the next 14 years, Jones trained five horses that went on to win the Derby, including two horses who won the Triple Crown.
He remains the only trainer in Kentucky Derby history to boast six winners.
Insco and Lawrin, who died in 1955, are buried next to each other in the Corinth Downs subdivision just a few blocks north of the old barn site.
First Washington, owners of Corinth Square South, are set to put up a new commercial building on the site.