It’s been quite a while since Prairie Village actually resembled a prairie with farms and pastures. But once upon a time a really great horse lived there at Woolford Farms: Lawrin, winner of the 1938 Kentucky Derby. So in honor of this month’s 143rd “Run for the Roses,” we salute Lawrin, the only Kansas-bred horse to ever win the race.
Lawrin and his sire, Insco, are buried next to each other at 59 Le Mans Court, in the private gated community just west of Corinth Library in Prairie Village. The iron fence surrounding the graves bears a sign reading “Woolford Farms” from the 200-acre operation owned by Herbert Woolf of Woolf Brothers department stores. He hired famed horse trainer Ben Jones to prepare Lawrin for the Derby. And yet-to-be-legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro was aboard Lawrin for his first Kentucky Derby win.
The building that was Lawrin’s stable, whose tall, pitched roof now shelters the Mission Road Antique Mall, 4101 W. 83rd St., is a more public vestige of Woolford Farms.
Lawrin was the top winning horse in 1938, with ten races earning a purse. His overall record was 26 starts with nine wins, eight places and two shows, with earnings of $126,275. Lawrin did not go on to run in the Preakness or Belmont Stakes that year.
The Woolf family used their winnings from the 1938 Kentucky Derby to sponsor numerous Jewish families in the United States who were fleeing Europe at the onset of World War II. Lawrin died in 1955 and Herbert Woolf sold Woolford Farms that same year.