By Mint Julep

Ada L. Rice Owner: One Kentucky Derby Winner

kentucky derby winner lucky debonair 1965

Join us on an exciting journey as we delve into the extraordinary life of Ada L. Rice, a revered figure in the world of thoroughbred horse racing and philanthropy. Discover her significant role as the owner of a Kentucky Derby champion, her creation of Danada Farm, and the lavish social events hosted at Danada House. Learn about Ada’s lasting impact through her support for cultural institutions, local infrastructure development, and charitable initiatives that continue to influence the Chicago area today.

Early Life and Business Ventures

In 1919, Daniel F. Rice founded his own commodity brokerage firm called Daniel F. Rice and Company, making a name for himself in American business history. With sharp business skills and a passion for excellence, he guided his company to remarkable success.

Ada L. Rice worked closely with her husband Daniel on charitable projects when they teamed up with Hayden Stone & Co., marking an important moment in their journey of giving back to society.

The couple didn’t just focus on charity within the office – they also launched various initiatives to help communities thrive and supported cultural institutions.

Ada L. Rice’s love for thoroughbred horse racing led her to own a Kentucky Derby champion, showing not only her passion for horses but also her talent spotting abilities in the equestrian world.

Their legacy lives on through Danada Farm – a place that embodies their shared dream of creating a space where nature’s beauty is celebrated while also being a hub for connecting like-minded individuals who appreciate life’s finer things.

Philanthropy and Foundation Establishment

Ada L. Rice and her husband, Dan, founded the Rice Foundation in 1947 to support various charitable causes that made a lasting impact on Chicago. Their work ranged from preventing child abuse to advancing medical research and animal conservation efforts.

Under Ada’s leadership, the Rice Foundation became known for its compassion and generosity, reflecting her strong commitment to improving the community. The Rices also supported arts programs in Chicago, nurturing creativity and cultural enrichment for generations.

Beyond traditional philanthropy, Ada focused on holistic well-being and societal progress by actively engaging with organizations dedicated to improving lives across different areas.

By continuing Ada L. Rice’s legacy through their ongoing efforts, the Rice Foundation demonstrates one woman’s vision of creating enduring change through kindness, empathy, and determination. Her benevolence continues to shape communities today as a reminder of making a meaningful impact that transcends time itself.

The Pros & Cons of Equestrian Legacy


  1. Equestrian sports have a rich history and tradition that captivate enthusiasts.

  2. Horse racing boasts a legacy of excellence and success that continues to inspire.

  3. The sport motivates young equestrians, paving the way for future champions.

  4. It instills values like hard work, dedication, and sportsmanship in its participants.

  5. Contributing to the preservation of equestrian culture is a key focus within the community.

  6. Above all, it celebrates the special bond shared between humans and horses.


  1. Feeling the pressure to match previous accomplishments

  2. Noticing a lack of diversity and inclusivity in the equestrian community

  3. Dealing with high costs required to uphold a legacy in equestrian sports

  4. Worried about achievements being overlooked due to emphasis on legacy

  5. Seeing how elitism can seep into the equestrian world

  6. Juggling traditional values with modern progressions

Thoroughbred Racing Passion

In 1929, Ada L. Rice and her husband founded Danada Farm south of Wheaton out of their love for thoroughbred horse racing. The farm’s lush green pastures and sturdy oak trees became the perfect backdrop for them to nurture their passion for these magnificent animals. It was at this very farm that Ada made history by achieving great success with Lucky Debonair in the 1965 Kentucky Derby.

The excitement of watching their prized horses race down the track became a central part of Ada and her husband’s life at Danada Farm. Their careful breeding program produced top-notch racehorses known for their speed, strength, and composure under pressure. With each thundering hoofbeat resonating through the serene countryside, Ada’s dedication to raising champions shone brightly like a guiding light toward victory.

When Lucky Debonair crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs with jockey Willie Shoemaker on his back carrying both his own dreams and those of Ada Rice, it marked a pinnacle in her career as a racehorse owner. The thrill experienced in that moment went beyond just winning; it represented years of hard work, unwavering determination, and an unbreakable bond between human and horse forged through shared challenges on dusty tracks beneath clear blue skies.

Beyond trophies and awards lay something deeper within Ada—a profound connection she held with these remarkable animals that transcended mere competition; it was about mutual respect, admiration for nature’s beauty encapsulated in every powerful stride taken by those four-legged athletes she cherished so dearly at Danada Farm.

Estate Development and Social Functions

Ada L. Rice’s Danada House was more than just a fancy house; it was a lavish venue where she threw amazing parties that wowed her guests. The estate had huge gardens, a greenhouse, and a cool swimming pool, making it the perfect spot for gatherings of up to 150 people at once. The atrium brought an elegant touch while the Kentucky-style stable could hold 26 awesome horses – showing Ada’s deep love for horse racing.

The vibe at Danada House during one of Ada’s parties was truly magical. As guests chatted under the stars on the porch or wandered through beautiful gardens, they were blown away by how incredible everything looked around them. This wasn’t your average get-together; Ada made sure every detail was just right with finesse and care. The stable quietly witnessed countless tales shared over clinking glasses as friends talked excitedly about their victories in horse races.

Danada House lit up with energy during any event there—a true reflection of Ada’s great taste and flair for doing things grandly but welcomingly too. Whether hosting small get-togethers or big parties full of fancy folks, everything bore her unique style—classy yet down-to-earth, posh yet friendly. And those nights filled with laughter echoing through halls steeped in history became moments etched in memory forever.

In short, Ada L. Rice didn’t just throw ordinary parties; she created experiences that stayed with you long after leaving Danada House’s enchanting setting behind – weaving together stories fueled by her passion for horses and hospitality alike into Chicago’s social fabric; an enduring legacy from which we can still draw inspiration today.

Legacy of Generosity and Influence

Name Occupation Contributions
Daniel F. Rice Businessperson Founded Daniel F. Rice and Company
Ada L. Rice Businessperson Co-founded the Rice Foundation
Lucky Debonair Racehorse Won the Kentucky Derby in 1965
Willie Shoemaker Jockey Rode Lucky Debonair to victory in 1965
Danada Farm Thoroughbred farm Owned by Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice
Danada House Estate Social functions venue and museum
Rice Foundation Philanthropy Donated to various charities and organizations
Chicago History Museum Museum Supported by the Rice Foundation
Art Institute of Chicago Art museum Received donations from Dan and Ada Rice
Lyric Opera of Chicago Opera house Foyer named after Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice
Benedictine University University Houses Dan and Ada Rice Athletic Center
Shedd Aquarium Aquarium Features facilities supported by the Rices
Morton Arboretum Arboretum Supported by the Rice Foundation
Illinois Institute of Technology University Received land donation from the Rices
Wheaton Park District Park district Received land donation from the Rices
Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois Charity Includes the Rice Child and Family Center
Brookfield Zoo Zoo Houses the Rice Conservation and Biology Research Center
Field Museum Museum Contains the Rice Gallery for themed exhibits
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Medical center Has the Rice Patient Treatment Center
Adler Planetarium Planetarium Features the Rice Solarium and cafeteria
Village of Skokie, Illinois Municipality Partnered with the Rice Foundation for arts center

Legacy Through Land Donations

Ada L. Rice was a well-known figure in Chicago’s elite social scene and horse-riding community, making a lasting impact through her charitable work. Besides the excitement of owning winning horses at the Kentucky Derby, Ada’s generosity shone through in her donations of large plots of land for important causes. These generous gifts included backing educational institutions like the Illinois Institute of Technology campus—a clear sign of her dedication to supporting learning opportunities.

The legacy left by Dan and Ada Rice is also seen in their gift of land for recreational areas within Wheaton Park District. This action not only created spaces for local residents to enjoy leisure activities but also highlighted the Rices’ commitment to improving public areas for everyone’s benefit. Their contributions went beyond just giving money; they believed in investing in structures that would enhance people’s lives and promote wellness throughout the area.

Ada’s vision extended far beyond horse racing tracks and fancy events at Danada House—her influence spread across different parts of society. By donating land for various purposes, she ensured that future generations could access quality education and recreational facilities while maintaining green spaces amidst urban growth pressures. The effects of her actions are still felt today, shaping communities in timeless ways.

The importance of Ada L. Rice’s land donations cannot be overstated—they stand as enduring symbols honoring a woman whose heart matched her remarkable achievements with its vastness Her contributions not only changed physical landscapes but also enriched cultural establishments within Chicago’s diverse tapestry Through these acts One can see how Ada secured a place among the city’s most cherished benefactors leaving behind an impactful legacy reflecting unwavering commitment towards societal betterment

Reflecting on Ada L.Rice’s extraordinary life journey—from triumphs on racetracks with esteemed racehorses to advocating causes benefiting countless individuals—it becomes evident that her legacy characterized by land donations embodies an altruistic spirit seldom witnessed nowadays

Enduring Impact on Cultural Institutions

Dan and Ada L. Rice left a lasting impact on various cultural institutions that now carry their names or have been supported by the Rice Foundation. Examples include the Chicago Botanic Gardens, which houses the Daniel F. & Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago’s Daniel F. & Ada L.

Rice Building and Shedd Aquarium’s Daniel F.&Ada L.Rice Pool.

Numerous organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area have received support from the generous contributions of the Daniel F.&Ada L.Rice Foundation. These include places like Brookfield Zoo with its Daniel F.&Ada.L.Rice Conservation & Biology Research Center, Field Museum featuring Dan F.andAdaL.Rice Gallery, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago housing the Daniel F.&AdaL.Rice Patient Treatment Center.

In addition to donating to specific causes or organizations, Dan and Ada also played a role in enhancing local infrastructure development by collaborating with entities such as Village of Skokie to establish North Shore Center for Performing Arts or providing land for public amenities like community centers within Wheaton Park District.

The widespread admiration for Dan and Ada is evident through several locations named after them across Wheaton region where “Dan” and “Ada” combine to form “Danada.” These tributes stand as enduring reminders of their significant influence on philanthropy, cultural enrichment, thoroughbred racing legacy, and overall societal improvement within the Chicago area.

Enchanting Tales of a Derby Champion's Legacy

  1. Captivating Stories of a Legendary Derby Winner's Impact:

  2. In 1956, Ada L. Rice's horse named "Needles" won the Kentucky Derby with jockey David Erb guiding him to victory.

  3. Needles made history as the first Florida-bred horse to conquer the Kentucky Derby and captured fans' hearts with his amazing win.

  4. Ada L. Rice, a well-known philanthropist and owner of Tartan Farm, played a key role in promoting excellence in horse racing and breeding across America.

  5. Needles' triumph at the Kentucky Derby firmly established his place in racing history by showcasing both his talent and dedication alongside his devoted owner.

  6. The legacy of Ada L. Rice and her champion steed Needles continues to inspire equestrian enthusiasts today, emphasizing the enduring magic and allure of this iconic event.


1. What was the name of Ada L. Rice's Kentucky Derby champion?

Ada L. Rice owned the winning Kentucky Derby horse, which she named Lucky Debonair.

2. How did Ada L. Rice become involved in thoroughbred horse racing?

Ada L. Rice got into thoroughbred horse racing because she loved the sport and bought the famous Kentucky Derby winner, Lucky Debonair, in 1965.

3. What inspired Ada L. Rice to establish Danada Farm?

Ada L. Rice felt a strong inspiration to create Danada Farm because of her love for horse racing and her dream to build a top-notch facility for breeding and training horses.

4. Can you describe some of the grand social functions held at Danada House?

Danada House, the beautiful estate owned by Ada L. Rice, hosted lavish social events that were famous for their luxury and style. Esteemed guests from high society were drawn to these gatherings to enjoy the elegant atmosphere and honor Ada's Kentucky Derby champion horse. They also celebrated her generous donations to charity and support of cultural institutions at these glamorous functions.

5. In addition to her equestrian pursuits, what other contributions did Ada L. Rice make to philanthropy and cultural institutions?

Ada L. Rice played a major role in giving back to the community and promoting cultural organizations in Chicago. She supported important causes like healthcare, education, and the arts, making a lasting impression on the city.

6. How has Ada L. Rice's legacy continued to impact the Chicago area today?

Ada L. Rice's impact can still be felt in the Chicago area today. She made a difference through her generous donations, support for the arts, and the lasting influence of Danada Farm and Danada House on the community.