Joe L. Allbritton, a Texas financier who at age 50 became a television and newspaper baron in Washington, then climbed the city’s social hierarchy as he transformed himself into the foremost banker to Embassy Row, died on Tuesday in Houston. He was 87.
The cause was a heart ailment, said Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the president of Allbritton Communications, which is based in Arlington, Va. Mr. Allbritton lived in Houston in his retirement.
Joe and his wife Barbara purchased Upperville, Virginia 'Lazy Lane Farm' in 1981 to breed Thoroughbred horses. They introduced Angus cattle to the farm in 1982 for rotational grazing with the horses.
Allbritton, the founder of Allbritton Communications, the parent company of ABC7, NewsChannel 8, and Politico, is best known in the Thoroughbred industry for campaigning Hansel, winner of the 1991 Preakness and Belmont Stakes (both gr. I). For his accomplishments, the son of Woodman earned an Eclipse Award as that year's champion 3-year-old male.
Earlier in his sophomore year, Hansel won the Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and Jim Beam Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park in track record time. He also finished third in the Florida Derby (gr. I). Following his Triple Crown feats, Hansel placed third in the Haskell Invitational and second in the Travers Stakes (both gr. I).
Hansel also had success racing at 2, winning the Tremont Stakes (gr. II) and Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes (gr. II) and finishing second in the Hopeful (gr. I) and Sapling (gr. II). He retired with earnings of $2,936,586 for Allbritton, who raced him under the name of his Lazy Lane Farm.
Allbritton reacquired Hansel following a 12-year stud career during which the stallion stood in New York and Japan. Allbritton pensioned him at Lazy Lane near Upperville, Va.
Part of Lazy Lane was previously known as Amandale Farm and owned by cattleman John C. Gall. However in large part the estate was once Isabella Dodge Sloane's "Brookmeade Stud" (acquired 1929) which was then 850-acres. She owned it until her death in 1961. Bred there by her was "Sword Dancer" which was 1959 U.S. Horse of the Year, Champion Three Year Old Colt, Champion Handicap Horse.
It really is a lovely estate (the barns are sensational in my view) just across "the street" from Ayrshire Farm and adjacent to the late Liz Whitney's Llangollen Farm.
It's disappointing The Washington Post went negative in their headline citing his death. Certainly the Riggs Bank debacle was a blemish, but the man otherwise was one the last self-made men from a far different era.
Does anyone know if his son Robert has any horse racing interest? One has to wonder if Lazy Lane Farms will be sold off to settle the estate and unburden his wife of the expense.
Eventually the Mellon estate after Bunny passes away will be another one-time productive racing outfit on the market, add that to Spring Hill Farm near Warrenton and so too North Wales also on the market, etc ... so few people willing to pick up the racing and/or breeding baton in VA on a large scale.
So sad to think what might become of one of my favorite farms I was fortunate to have visited LL a few years ago with the Stable Tour. One of my favorite photos was taken by a friend, as I strolled down the long shed row. The architecture was absolutely stunning! I could have spent hours there! It took me years to find out what farm was graced by that expansive run of stone, hidden behind those tall pines along Rt 50.