By Mint Julep

Ethel V. Mars Owner: One Kentucky Derby Winner

1940 kentucky derby winner gallahadion

Follow the incredible journey of Ethel V. Mars, an extraordinary businesswoman and racehorse owner who made history by winning the Kentucky Derby with Gallahadion. Explore her determination, groundbreaking spirit, and lasting impact on Thoroughbred racing as she challenged conventions in a male-dominated field. Her strategic breeding program at Milky Way Farm and charitable contributions left a lasting impression on the communities she influenced.

Early Life and Family Background

Ethel Veronica Mars was born in June 1884 in Petersburg, North Dakota. She became an American businesswoman and owned racehorses. In 1910, she married Franklin Clarence Mars, the founder of the Mars Candy company. Growing up on the plains of North Dakota must have made Ethel determined and resilient.

Her early years surrounded by wide-open spaces likely nurtured a spirit as free as the wind blowing across those prairies. It’s intriguing to imagine how those vast horizons could have influenced her ambitions to be as limitless as the sky above them.

When Ethel married Franklin Clarence Mars, no one could predict that their union would not only be based on love but also driven by a shared entrepreneurial vision. The combination of their unique strengths seemed to create a recipe for success sweeter than any candy they could produce.

As Ethel ventured into owning racehorses with her husband, it wasn’t just testing new waters; it was diving headfirst into an arena where women were rare—a domain dominated by men whose whispers likely fell silent when Gallahadion raced down that Kentucky Derby track under her ownership.

Acquisition of Milky Way Farm

In 1930, Ethel V. Mars and her husband took a big step by purchasing a massive 2,800-acre property in Giles County, Tennessee. This marked the start of something special for Ethel – as she followed her passion for breeding top racehorses and raising Hereford cattle on this beautiful land.

Ethel’s determination turned Milky Way Farm into a hub for champion bloodlines that amazed tracks near and far. She had an eye for quality stock which led to the birth of legendary racehorses under her care. It wasn’t just about winning races; it was about nurturing talent from the start and watching them grow into champions under her watchful eyes.

Milky Way Farm wasn’t just known for its lush pastures; it symbolized Ethel’s unwavering commitment to excellence in every way possible. From carefully planned breeding programs aimed at producing elite Thoroughbreds to providing top-notch care for each animal on-site, Ethel did everything she could to achieve greatness in the equestrian world.

As news spread about Milky Way Farm’s incredible achievements under Ethel’s leadership, more people looked towards this beacon of success nestled among Tennessee’s rolling hills with admiration. It wasn’t just any farm; it stood as proof of one woman’s unbeatable spirit turning dreams into reality with every hoofbeat resonating across its vast landscape.”

The Pros & Cons of Racing Horse Ownership


  1. Experience the excitement and thrill

  2. Opportunity for earning significant financial gains

  3. Chance to join a prestigious sport community

  4. Connect with other horse owners and industry professionals

  5. Delight in watching your horse compete and win


  1. You'll need to invest a lot upfront

  2. You have to keep paying for horse care, training, and competition fees

  3. There's a chance the horse could get hurt during training or racing

  4. Taking care of and managing the horse properly will take up a lot of your time

  5. It's hard to predict how well the horse will perform and you might end up losing money

Success in Thoroughbred Racing

Ethel V. Mars was a powerhouse in the world of Thoroughbred racing after her husband died in 1934. She took charge of Milky Way Farm stable with determination and a sharp eye for talent, leading horses like Forever Yours and Mars Shield to victory on top racecourses. Ethel’s smart decisions and deep love for horse racing not only made her stand out as a groundbreaking businesswoman but also secured her legacy as one of the most influential figures in the sport.

One of Ethel Mars’ biggest achievements came when Gallahadion won an amazing victory at the famous Kentucky Derby in 1940. This underdog story gripped hearts and headlines alike as Gallahadion defied odds to win under jockey Carroll Bierman. This triumph wasn’t just Ethel’s first big win at Churchill Downs; it showcased her keen judgment in spotting equine talent early on. Gallahadion’s unexpected Derby win went down as a memorable moment in Thoroughbred racing history, cementing Ethel V. Mars’ name among legends within the sport.

Ethel Mars’ influence reached far beyond owning winning horses; she embodied resilience, tenacity, and an unwavering spirit that inspired many women aspiring to break into horse racing circles and beyond. Her sharp business skills combined with genuine passion for horses set her apart as a forward-thinking leader who cleared paths for future female owners and entrepreneurs in horse racing—a field traditionally dominated by men. With sheer determination, Ethel broke barriers while charging towards success on tracks across the country.

Even facing challenges that might have discouraged others, Ethel V.Mars stayed focused on advancing Thoroughbred racing—her true calling—and supporting fellow women through this exciting journey filled with highs and lows reminiscent of riding undulating terrains during races themselves! Each hoofbeat echoed stories of past victories blending seamlessly with dreams waiting eagerly around every turnpost…Ethyl persisted despite it all—from sweet victories akin to honeydew melons after hard-fought battles against tough opponents along endless straightaways—to setbacks harder than bitter oats untouched by tired steeds seeking respite from harsh sunbeams beating down upon their backs…

Kentucky Derby Victory with Gallahadion

In May 1940, Ethel V. Mars made history in the world of Thoroughbred racing by winning the prestigious Kentucky Derby. The excitement of watching her horse Gallahadion charge ahead to victory, claiming the sought-after Garland of Roses, became a defining moment for her as both a successful businesswoman and horse owner.

With determination and passion for the sport, Ethel Mars broke through gender barriers in an industry dominated by men. She proved that with grit and perseverance, success has no limits. Her fearless approach paved the way for women in racing, inspiring future generations with her pursuit of excellence on and off the racetrack.

The teamwork between Ethel Mars, trainer Roy Waldron, and jockey Carroll Bierman was key to Gallahadion’s triumph at Churchill Downs. Their combined efforts turned dreams into reality that memorable day at the track, leaving a lasting impact on racing fans worldwide.

As Gallahadion crossed the finish line first amid cheers from supporters, Ethel Mars felt immense pride—a result of years of hard work and unwavering belief in her champion horses. This victory not only brought glory to her stables but also cemented her reputation as a trailblazer within an industry rich in tradition yet open to change.

Reflecting back on Ethel V. Mars’ Kentucky Derby win with Gallahadion reveals more than just a turf triumph—it serves as inspiration for young entrepreneurs and horse lovers alike. Her journey exemplifies what can be accomplished through resilience, vision,and dedication to one’s passions—an enduring lesson echoed from Churchill Downs throughout time.

Ethel V. Mars: Life and Legacy Snapshot

Field Information
Born Ethel Veronica Healy (1884) in Petersburg, North Dakota, US
Died December 25, 1945 (aged 61) in La Jolla, California, U.S.
Resting place Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Occupation Businessperson
Known for Milky Way Farm, Gallahadion
Spouse Franklin Clarence Mars
Children Patricia Mars

Decline in Health and Later Years

Ethel V. Mars made history by winning the Kentucky Derby with Gallahadion in 1940 when she was just a sophomore. After her triumph, she faced health challenges that led her to reduce her involvement in racing operations. Despite this, Ethel remained highly respected within the Thoroughbred community.

Her determination and spirit propelled Ethel Mars into horse racing history as a pioneering businesswoman and racehorse owner. Even though she encountered setbacks due to health issues later on, she continued to inspire many young women looking to succeed in the male-dominated world of Thoroughbred racing.

On December 25, 1945, while visiting La Jolla, California, Ethel V. Mars passed away at the age of sixty-one. Her legacy lives on through her significant contributions to horse racing and impact on women breaking barriers within the industry.

Although gone now like a swift gallop under moonlight; yet forever resonant like hoofbeats echoing through time – Ethel Mars’ indomitable spirit continues inspiring generations of female entrepreneurs and racers alike. Her story stands as proof that success against all odds is achievable when fueled by passion from deep within one’s soul​

Legacy of Milky Way Farm Stable

In the heart of Kentucky, Ethel V. Mars’ Milky Way Farm stable was a shining example of success in Thoroughbred horse racing during the mid-20th century. With her sharp eye for talent and unwavering dedication to the sport, Mars built a legacy that still captures the attention of racing fans worldwide.

The most memorable moment in Milky Way Farm’s history occurred at Churchill Downs when Gallahadion, guided by jockey Carroll Bierman, raced across the finish line to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby. This incredible achievement not only solidified Mars’ status among elite racers but also marked a significant breakthrough for women in an industry dominated by men.

Beyond just celebrating Gallahadion’s victory at the Derby, Ethel V. Mars was respected for her determination and pioneering spirit as a female businesswoman in competitive Thoroughbred racing circles. Her strong commitment to excellence and deep love for developing equine talent made her stand out as an icon whose influence is felt through generations of aspiring horse owners and racers alike.

Milky Way Farm wasn’t just where champions were bred; it also symbolized empowerment for women overcoming obstacles in male-dominated fields. Ethel V. Mars blazed trails with every hoofbeat echoing through those barn aisles, proving that gender should never hold back someone from achieving greatness or pursuing their dreams within horseracing.

As we look back on Ethel V. Mars’ lasting impact at Milky Way Farm stable, let’s remember not only her impressive achievements on the track but also her unyielding spirit that continues to inspire many individuals drawn to Thoroughbred racing’s allure. Like stars lighting up an endless sky, her contributions shine brightly against historical backgrounds—forever guiding paths where others can follow with courage and conviction like this trailblazing matriarch of American horse racing lore.

Enchanting Tales from Ethel V. Mars' Legacy

  1. ### Captivating Stories from the Legacy of Ethel V. Mars

  2. **The Hidden Garden:** Ethel V. Mars, a proud owner of a Kentucky Derby champion, was famous for her passion for gardening. As rumors go, she supposedly kept a secret garden on her property filled with rare and magical flowers that were believed to hold mystical powers.

  3. **The Alluring Moonstone:** Legend has it that Ethel V. Mars had in her possession a highly sought-after moonstone known for bringing luck and prosperity to its owner. Many claimed this gem had been passed down through generations of the Mars family as a cherished heirloom.

  4. **The Whispers of the Breeze:** It was said that during silent evenings at Ethel V. Mars' estate, gentle winds carried ancient stories and hidden truths in their whispers across the land's expanse. Some believed these murmurs were messages from spirits of past Derby champions guiding future racers towards victory.

  5. **The Mystical Bridle:** Rumor had it that Ethel V.Mars owned an enchanted bridle capable of bestowing exceptional speed and agility upon any horse wearing it—a crucial element contributing to her Kentucky Derby winner's success by enabling them to outshine competitors effortlessly.

  6. .** The Enchanted Circle:** Tales speak of a magical faerie circle concealed within the depths of Ethel V.Mars’ woods where wandering souls could discover blessings granting them protection and good fortune—assuring they always had luck smiling upon them.

Impact on Women in Racing

Ethel V. Mars made a lasting impact in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing, an industry largely dominated by men. Despite facing challenges and biases, her determination propelled her to success as she fearlessly pursued her love for horses.

In 1940, Ethel’s keen eye for talent was proven when Gallahadion won the Kentucky Derby against all odds. This victory not only showcased her skills but also established her as a savvy businesswoman in a male-dominated field. Her achievement broke barriers and motivated many aspiring female owners and breeders to chase their dreams relentlessly.

Ethel’s legacy goes beyond awards; it stands as an inspiration for women in industries where men hold most of the power. Her courage, resilience, and unwavering spirit continue to resonate within Thoroughbred horse racing circles, highlighting that passion and perseverance can overcome any gender-related obstacles on the path to greatness.

Philanthropic Contributions

Ethel V. Mars wasn’t just a successful businesswoman and famous racehorse owner; she had a heart as big as her dreams. Besides her victories on the racetrack, she focused on making real differences in society, especially in places like Giles County, Tennessee that were close to her heart.

Her efforts to help others weren’t just for show but came from genuine care for education and farming development where it was needed most. Ethel didn’t stop at the stables or boardrooms; instead, she touched the lives of many through her generosity.

In simple terms, Ethel V. Mars did more than write checks or offer support when convenient – she put all of herself into causes that matched her values and made an unforgettable impact on communities lucky enough to benefit from her kindness. Her legacy isn’t only seen through Gallahadion’s victory at the Kentucky Derby but also in the people whose lives were changed by her compassion and unwavering commitment.

Breeding Program at Milky Way Farm

Ethel V. Mars was a masterful breeder at Milky Way Farm, crafting a top-notch breeding program that caught the attention of many in the racing world. She meticulously selected only the best stallions and mares to create future champions, much like a skilled conductor leading an orchestra.

The pastures at the farm were teeming with young foals full of promise, all under Ethel’s careful guidance. Each horse she bred represented her dedication to excellence and unwavering commitment to producing high-quality Thoroughbreds.

Thanks to Ethel’s sharp eye for bloodlines and conformation, her horses achieved remarkable success on racecourses across the country. They weren’t just participants; they embodied her vision and determination as they raced towards victory with elegance and strength.

Milky Way Farm flourished under Ethel’s leadership as more than just a home for horses – it became a hub of talent poised to captivate audiences at prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby, securing their place in racing history alongside Gallahadion’s iconic win.

Recognition Within Horse Racing Circles

Even though Ethel V. Mars has passed away, she is still being honored for her important contributions to Thoroughbred horse racing. She was recognized through various awards celebrating her success as an owner-breeder in the sport’s history.

After she died in La Jolla, California, Ethel V. Mars was buried at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota next to her family members. This marked a final tribute to her legacy as a powerful businesswoman and respected figure in American horse racing history.

Ethel V. Mars’ win at the Kentucky Derby with Gallahadion was a significant moment not only for her career but also for women involved in horse racing. Her determination and trailblazing attitude opened doors for female owners and breeders that followed, making a lasting impact on an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated – an impact that can still be seen today.


1. How did Ethel V. Mars first become involved in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing?

Ethel V. Mars entered the Thoroughbred horse racing scene because of her love for horses and skill in breeding. She founded a thriving racing stable and made history by winning the Kentucky Derby with Gallahadion.

2. What was the significance of Gallahadion's Kentucky Derby victory for Ethel V. Mars and her legacy in racing?

Ethel V. Mars made history when Gallahadion won the Kentucky Derby, showing her strength as a female entrepreneur and horse owner in the racing world. Her determination and innovative mindset have inspired many women in the sport, leaving a lasting impact on Thoroughbred racing circles.

3. What were some of the key contributions that Ethel V. Mars made to the sport of horse racing as a female owner?

Ethel V. Mars left a lasting impact on horse racing as a female owner, achieving a groundbreaking milestone by being the first woman to claim victory in the renowned Kentucky Derby with Gallahadion in 1940. Her historic win solidified her position as an innovator and role model for women involved in Thoroughbred racing.

4. How did Ethel V. Mars break barriers and pave the way for other women in the traditionally male-dominated world of Thoroughbred racing?

Ethel V. Mars broke gender barriers and paved the way for women in Thoroughbred racing when she made history with her groundbreaking Kentucky Derby win with Gallahadion. Her determination, pioneering spirit, and lasting impact on the sport are still felt today.

5. Can you discuss some of the other notable achievements or milestones in Ethel V. Mars' career as a racehorse owner?

In 1966, Ethel V. Mars scored a major win as a racehorse owner by guiding Kauai King to victory in the Preakness Stakes. This triumph cemented her status as a groundbreaking figure in the world of Thoroughbred racing.

6. In what ways did Ethel V. Mars' pioneering spirit and determination leave a lasting impact on the sport of horse racing?

Ethel V. Mars made a significant mark on horse racing by winning the historic Kentucky Derby with Gallahadion, showing great determination and breaking barriers as a successful businesswoman and racehorse owner. She inspired many women to follow their passion for Thoroughbred racing with courage and tenacity.