Bull Lea was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who is best known as the foundation sire responsible for making Calumet Farm one of the most successful racing stables in American history. In their article on Calumet Farm, the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky wrote that Bull Lea was "one of the greatest sires in Thoroughbred breeding history."
Bred by E. Dale Schaffer's Coldstream Stud in Lexington, Kentucky, Bull Lea was sired by Bull Dog and out of the mare, Rose Leaves by Ballot. He was purchased as a yearling by Calumet Farm's Warren Wright, Sr. and sent to race at age two under trainer Frank J. Kearns. The colt finished second in the 1937 Hopeful and Champagne Stakes, two important races for his age group.
At age three, Bull Lea set a new Keeneland Race Course record for nine furlongs in winning the 1938 Blue Grass Stakes. Made a 3:1 second choice by bettors for the Kentucky Derby, he finished eighth and then ran sixth in the Preakness Stakes. The following year, the four-year-old's most important win came in the Widener Handicap.
Sire of Seven Hall of Fame Inductees
Bull Lea entered stud in 1940 at Calumet Farm's operation in Lexington, Kentucky. He became the Leading sire in North America for five years and Leading broodmare sire for four years. He was also the first sire in the history of American Thoroughbred horse racing to have offspring with earnings of more than $1 million dollars in a single season.