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Lifelong Horsewoman Augustus Dies at 90

The Thoroughbred Industry has lost a legend in owner/breeder Peggy Augustus. Notably, the co-breeder of 2015 champion 3-year-old filly Stellar Wind  and 1977 champion grass horse Johnny D., Augustus passed away July 30 at 90 at her home on Old Keswick Farm in Charlottesville, Va. The Thoroughbred Daily News first reported her death.

A lifelong horsewoman, Augustus was born near Cleveland, Ohio, and learned how to handicap successfully from the ripe age of 10 in the 1940s when her mother, Elizabeth Augustus Knight, would sneak her into racetracks.

“You had to be 21 to get into the racetracks back then,” Augustus told Virginia Living in 2008. “If I picked less than four winners, it was a bad day!”

As a teenager, Augustus stormed the hunter jumper circuits collecting wins at every major show and championship, including the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden, Devon Horse Show, Royal Winter Fair, and the Pennsylvania National. She competed and won in Virginia at the big four—Hot Springs, Keswick, Deep Run, and Warrenton.

Augustus was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, a member of the Virginia Horse Show Hall of Fame and National Horse Show Hall of Fame, and named a Living Legend of the National Horse Show in 1996. She was added to the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame the following year.

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Her family purchased the Old Keswick Farm in Virginia in 1952 and ran a breeding business, she moved there in 1963 after her father’s death and continued the nursery under the name Keswick Stables.

The farm saw much success from the beginning until its final days, including breeding a reported 48 stakes winners. In 1974 a colt by Stage Door Johnny out of the unraced mare Dusk was born on the farm; named Johnny D. he was campaigned by owner Dana Bray to collect a win in the 1977 Lexington Handicap (G2T) and Washington D.C. International Stakes (G1T), and place in four other graded tests. He was named champion grass horse that year.

Augustus bred and campaigned grade 1 winner Husband by Diesis, who traveled from France to capture the International Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine Racetrack in 1993. The colt was initially offered during the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale but failed to meet his reserve of $200,000.

Bred in partnership with Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Augustus saw the blue hen in the making Stellar Wind sell for $40,000 during the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale in 2013. The filly by Curlin   proceeded to make history for her new owner Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler winning four graded events at 3, including the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3), Santa Anita Oaks (G1), Summertime Oaks (G2), and Torrey Pines Stakes (G3). Stellar Wind contested the Kentucky Oaks (G1), finishing fourth and second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). That year she was crowned United States champion 3-year-old filly.

Stellar Wind wins the 2016 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes
Photo: Benoit Photo

Stellar Wind wins the 2016 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar

The following year, she won the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) and Zenyatta Stakes (G1). At 5, She took the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), Beholder Mile (G1), and Clement L. Hirsch for a second year.

She retired with earnings of $2,903,200 in 17 career efforts and a record of 10-2-1. Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier signed the $6 million sales slip for the mare during the 2017 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Stellar Wind was the final offspring from Keswick Stables. In 2002, Augustus and her mother were inducted into the Virginia Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.

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