Josephine Abercrombie, 95, died peacefully at her home on Pin Oak Stud in Woodford County,
Kentucky on January 5, just 10 days shy of her birthday. Born January 15, 1926, in Kingston,
Jamaica, Josephine greeted every new day of her extraordinary life with the quest to see what
came next. The only child of Texas oilman and Cameron Iron Works founder J. S. “Mr. Jim”
Abercrombie and Lillie Frank Abercrombie, Josephine spent her childhood in Texas.
At the age of seven, Josephine’s love of horses led her to begin showing American Saddle
Horses. This was the start of an illustrious career where, as a young woman, Josephine became
a record holder at Madison Square Garden for the most blue ribbons won in a single season,
winning 17 out of 20 classes. She was also one of only a handful of amateurs to show a World
Grand Champion. Her passion for the sport, combined with her strong desire to support civic
projects, led Josephine to join her father in creating the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in the
mid-1940’s. This highly successful Houston fixture on the national circuit dedicated its support
to Texas Children’s Hospital, which Mr. Abercrombie had played a major role in establishing.
Josephine’s success on the horse show circuit eventually led her to major competitions in
Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, where she fell in love with the land and being surrounded by
horses. In a short time, she began to turn her energies toward Thoroughbred breeding and
racing. In the 1950’s, she and her father purchased a 4,000-acre farm, which they named Pin
Oak, in Woodford County, Kentucky, and established a Thoroughbred breeding and farming
operation. Josephine quickly developed a deep respect and passion for the land and all it
After 35 years on the original Pin Oak, where they grew tobacco and bred White-faced Hereford
cattle in addition to the Thoroughbred operation, Josephine decided to move to a smaller 750-
acre farm just down the road to focus solely on Thoroughbreds. The new farm, named Pin Oak
Stud, became a labor of love for Josephine. She relished the daily interactions on the farm and
enjoyed the tranquility and mix of wildlife, along with the constant companionship of her
beloved Weimaraner dogs. A hands-on owner, Josephine was present at many of the births of
her Thoroughbreds and adored watching the young foals develop. She was active in the early
schooling of young racehorses and eager to see her blue and gray racing silks, the school colors
of her alma mater Rice University, in competition on the racetrack. Josephine always wanted
what was best for her horses, her farm, and for all the people who cared for and were involved
in their well-being.
To date, nearly 70 stakes winners have been bred or raced by Pin Oak Stud, including Classic
winners in America and England and Grade 1 stakes winners in three countries. A source of
great pride for Josephine was racing some special homebreds, such as Eclipse champion females
like Laugh and Be Merry and Confessional as well as top colts who went on to become
successful stallions, including Peaks and Valleys and Broken Vow. For nearly 15 years, Pin Oak
Stud sponsored the graded Valley View Stakes at Keeneland, which she won twice with
homebreds. Recognized as the National Breeder of the Year, Josephine also has been honored
by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders with the Hardboot Award as well as the
William T. Young Humanitarian Award. Additionally, she was inducted into the Texas
Horseracing Hall of Fame. In 2018, Josephine was the Honor Guest of the Thoroughbred Club of
America in appreciation for her “enduring sportsmanship, acumen and vision, and her devotion
to the loftiest principles established by earlier leaders on the Turf.”
With a strong sense of responsibility to future generations, Josephine was passionate about
conservation and education. She provided generous philanthropic support of civic, educational,
and Thoroughbred industry projects. In addition to her generosity to her alma mater Rice
University, it was the founding of The Lexington School that was perhaps her crowning
achievement. There are legions of grateful parents, alumni, and students whose lives were all
enriched by the educational journey sparked by this institution.
Late in her life, Josephine revisited her lifelong love of ballroom dancing and spent many years
training for and competing in ballroom dancing competitions all over the country. Her zest for
life and quest for new challenges never faded.
Josephine Abercrombie is survived by two sons, George Anderson Robinson IV and Jamie
Abercrombie Robinson, as well as grandchildren George Anderson Robinson V and Blair
Funeral arrangements are private. For those wishing to honor Josephine Abercrombie’s
memory, contributions can be made to The Lexington School, attention Una McCarthy, 1050
Lane Allen Road, Lexington, KY 40504; Woodford Humane Society, attention Katie Hoffman, P.O.
Box 44, Versailles, KY; or the Thoroughbred Charities of America, attention Erin Crady, P.O. Box
910668, Lexington, KY 40591.