As the proposed best turf writer in Tennessee, it is my obligation to indoctrinate as many sports fans as possible in regard to the many wonderful aspects of the sport of kings. Here is a little story that ties the Volunteer State to the greatest sport in the world.

Nestled just north of the Alabama state line is the magnificent Milky Way Farm. Purchased by Franklin Mars in 1930, this 2,000-acre tract is located in Giles County and was a place to behold. The success of the Mars Candy Company had allowed the founder to open an office in Nashville and he saw fit to purchase this rural property and begin an agricultural operation. With a 25,000 square foot home, 70 cottages, thirty barns, and a Thoroughbred race track, Mr. Mars and his wife Ethel had a real showplace.

Here is where we tie to the Thoroughbred racing game. Franklin Mars became ill and passed away in 1934 before he could really see the full effect of this wonderful creation. Under the guidance of Ethel, Milky Way Farm flexed its muscles. During the 1936 racing season, Milky Way Farm was the top money earner ($206,450) in the game. Between 1935 and 1943, Milky Way sent 10 horses to post in the Kentucky Derby. In 1940, after campaigning on the West Coast, Gallahadion brought the blanket of roses south to the rolling hills of Tennessee. Going off at odds of 35 to 1, this Kentucky-bred son of Sir Gallahad III stalked the heavily favored Bimelech before bolting past him in deep stretch.

The win by Gallahadian was especially sweet for a couple of reasons. Number one, a 35 to 1 shot in an eight-horse field is not supposed to reach the wire first. However, the ground-saving trip under jockey Carroll Bierman provided the Mars family the glory every Thoroughbred horse owner chases. This Roy Waldron-trained grandson of Reigh Count gave a stable based in the Volunteer State the greatest prize in sports, a Kentucky Derby winner.

Milky Way Farm ceased its Thoroughbred racing operations in 1945 after the death of Ethel Mars. Having been revived as a historic landmark in the Sothern portion of Tennessee, the Farm hosts many different events and tours. But as far as this turf writer is concerned, the greatest achievement of this iconic venue took place on the first Saturday in May of 1940.