The Princess and the Pauper
Set deep in the bluegrass of Kentucky, Calumet Farm had stood atop the sport of thoroughbred horse racing for decades. It was the breeding place and training ground of champions. Calumet produced two winners of Triple Crown — the grand slam of horse racing — as well as another eight Kentucky Derby winners, seven Preakness Stakes winners, and two Belmont Stakes winners. Citation, the sport's first million-dollar horse, was from Calumet.
Founded in the 1920s by William Wright, Calumet had been ruled since 1950 by Mr. Wright's daughter-in-law, family matriarch Lucille Wright Markey, under whose stewardship the farm had grown into a $100 million operation. Other than Mrs. Markey, though, there were no true "horse people" left in the family. Content to be absentee partners, the other members of the Wright family shared in the farm's profits, lived in other places, and, as long as the checks kept coming, had little interest in what went on at Calumet.
In the summer of 1962, Mrs. Markey's granddaughter and namesake, Lucille 'Cindy' Wright, then just 16, met a local farmhand named John Thomas Lundy, whom everyone called J.T. The 21-year-old Lundy was smitten,although whether by Cindy's charms or her family's money wasn't clear at the time. Later it became fairly evident that what young Lundy, whom writer Skip Hollandsworth described as having "a head the size of a gasoline can and a nose that looked as if it had been busted and reset by a plumber," had really coveted was Calumet Farm.
"He told people early on he was going to marry Cindy and run Calumet," said journalist Carol Flake. "She was his ticket. J.T. Lundy loved getting places fast, and I think he saw a shortcut to getting to the top of Calumet."
Mrs. Markey hated J.T. Lundy, and he knew it.
A year after they met, Lundy and Cindy Wright got married. J.T. Lundy was now part of the family at Calumet.