The History of Big Lex

a portrait of a blue horse

“Big Lex” has become the mascot + symbol for our city. | Photo courtesy of VisitLex

Table of Contents

In case you missed it, the color blue is kind of a big deal around here. You also can’t turn a downtown corner, or a country backroad, without seeing a horse — whether that be local equine art or the real thing.

So, it makes sense that one of our city’s most adorned mascots is a big blue horse.

But how did “Big Lexfind his way to the winner’s circle and come to represent our city? Let’s find out.

The Horse

“Lexington” was actually the name of one of the most dominant racehorses of the 19th century.

  • Origin: Lexington (the horse) was born in what is now the city limits of Lexington (the town) in 1850.
  • Racing: Lexington asserted his dominance in the racing industry, winning six out of his seven career races.
  • Fun fact: The Kentucky Derby race is 1.25 miles in length. Several of Lexington’s winning races were a grueling four miles longhis fastest time coming in at just over seven minutes.
  • Legacy: He also produced more championship offspring than any other stallion of his time, leading the US’ sire list for 14 consecutive years + 16 years in total — a record that still stands today.
a painting of a horse

This is the original portrait of Lexington, created by artist Edward Troye in the 19th century. | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

The Painter

Edward Troye was one of the most prolific animal painters of the 19 century.

  • Life: The Swiss-born artist came to reside in Georgetown, KY, where he is now buried, and was considered the best in the US — held in regard to the European greats of his time.
  • Work: In a time before iPhones, his work served as visual documentation for early US Thoroughbred champions.
  • Fun fact: Troy would paint Lexington (the horse) a dozen times in his lifetime.
a portrait of a man

Edward Troye came to be known as one of the most famous US painters of the 19th century and is now buried in Georgetown Cemetery. |


In 2009, VisitLex collaborated with a design firm in hopes of creating branded imagery for our city — a design that would highlight our history, while showcasing us as a modern, 21st-century city.

Hence — “Big Lex” was born.

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