Calumet Farm's leading creditor has been given permission to foreclose on the thoroughbred operation, clearing the way for the property to be auctioned this spring.
"Whoever buys it at auction will want it and love it," Calumet president John T. Ward said Thursday after a short hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co. could wind up buying back the farm if bids at auction fall short of the $23.5 million it is now owed. An appraisal prepared for Mutual Benefit valued the farm at $24.6 million.
Attorneys for Calumet and Mutual Benefit told Judge Joe Lee that they had agreed to auction the farm, probably in March.
The sale will mark the end of 68 years of ownership by the family of William Monroe Wright. It was under Warren Wright Sr.'s watch that Calumet became a landmark in Lexington and in the horse industry. Calumet achieved unmatched success in the thoroughbred business, breeding a record eight Kentucky Derby winners, including the Triple Crown champions Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948).
Bertha Wright, the last family member to live on the farm, left it earlier this week.