Lost Run Farm’s heritage is extraordinary. Now known as Lost Run Farm, the farm was known as “Arbywood Farm” when it was owned by Ronnie & Lucy Woodard.
Ronnie and Lucy raised champion thoroughbred horses and German Shepherds at Lost Run, and experienced unparalleled success. Both Ronnie and Lucy were raised in Indianapolis in prominent families, were highly educated, adventurous, innovative, and primed for success at whatever they set their hands to.
Ronnie, a 1935 graduate of the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, was an investment banker at Raffensperger, Hughes & Company (now PNC Investments), an avid world traveler, an owner and board member of the Indiana Pacers, and the principal owner of the horse that won the 1964 British Grand National Steeplechase Race, at Aintree.
Lucy and Ronnie were introduced through Ronnie’s sister, Mary Louise, while Lucy and Mary Louise were attending DePauw University. Lucy was already passionate about horses when she met Ronnie (she had showed a horse in Madison Square Garden), and it was Lucy’s enthusiasm that planted the seeds for Ronnie’s interest.
Both Ronnie and Lucy came from families of achievement, and families that valued education.
Ronnie was the son of Abe Woodard Sr. a Methodist minister who came to Indianapolis to lead North United and Irvington Methodist churches. Ronnie’s three brothers, Abe (a medical doctor), Harold (a Patent Attorney who formed a successful Indianapolis law firm), and John (a longtime trust attorney for Indiana National Bank), all forged successful careers in Indianapolis. Harold graduated from Harvard Law School, John received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, and sister Mary Louise graduated from Radcliffe (after transferring from DePauw).
Lucy was the daughter of Dr. Goethe Link. Dr. Link developed many innovative surgical treatments for Goiter and Thyroid problems. He was one of the founders of the Indiana University Medical School, and kept an active practice well into his 80s.
Dr. Link was a pioneering hot air balloon pilot who learned to fly balloons from Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl Fischer. He won two trophies in the first race ever held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the “National Balloon Race,” held on June 5, 1909. Launching their balloon The Indianapolis from inside the track, Dr. Link and his copilot won trophies for distance and time aloft when they landed in Westmoreland, Tennessee (45 miles northeast of Nashville) in just over 19 hours. They enjoyed “perfect weather” and landed safely – despite being twice being shot at over Kentucky.
An amateur astronomer, Dr. Link built the Link Observatory in nearby Brooklyn, Indiana, which was donated to Indiana University in 1947. An asteroid, the 1728 Goethe Link, was discovered at the observatory in 1964.
A classic “Mrs. Inside and Mr. Outside,” Lucy and Ronnie Woodard combined skills and partnered to successfully raise champion horses and German Shepherds on their farm, and elsewhere. Lucy, who never liked to fly and rarely travelled, would tirelessly study the blood lines and genealogy necessary for success in breeding.
Ronnie, who loved to travel and socialize, was the side of the partnership that hit the road in search of horses, dogs, and adventure. An amateur race car driver, Ronnie raced against Roger Penske in Sports Car Club of America racing in the 1950s. Fascinated with speed, Ronnie purchased a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT – and haggled over the price with the legendary Enzo Ferrari when Ronnie went to pick up the car, in Maranello, Italy (He managed to make Enzo Ferrari throw in some bespoke leather luggage bags).
Stationed in Liverpool during World War II, Ronnie received a Bronze Star for his role as a Transport Captain, greeting US troops massing in England for the D Day invasion. While in Liverpool, Ronnie became a fan of English steeplechase horseracing, and steeplechase racing’s biggest event, the British Grand National Championship, at Aintree, England.
The Grand National is famed for its grueling course, which features some 30 jumps over 4 ½ miles. Simply finishing the race is an achievement, as only ten horses may complete the race, out of forty starters. Like the Kentucky Derby, the Grand National is televised and draws viewers who do not watch any other horse race all year. The race draws 500 million viewers worldwide.
Remarkably, Ronnie returned to England in 1964 to compete in the Grand National, as the principal owner of Team Spirit. Leading an American ownership team, Team Spirit came from behind in thrilling fashion, to win the race, literally, by a nose. The picture of Ronnie in the Winner’s Circle, being interviewed by the media in a cowboy hat, is a classic – and pure Ronnie Woodard.
Despite Ronnie’s great success with raising thoroughbred horses, Lucy achieved even more fame from breeding German Shepherds. Lucy became famous in the German Shepherd world for outstanding breeding, but particularly for innovations which produced an amazing six champion German Shepherds from a single litter. This incredible feat – known within the German Shepherd world as the “Arbywood F Litter” (as all the dogs had first names starting with the letter “F”) – has only been achieved twice in the history of the breed.
One of the six champion dogs, Fortune, later sired “Lance of Fran-Jo,” the dog that would revolutionize the breed in the United States, through his phenomenal success in the show ring and as the all-time highest “Register of Merit” German Shepherd.
Ronnie Woodard was also one of the owners (during the American Basketball Association era) of the Indiana Pacers, and, in his 60s, he capped off his international adventures by buying and renovating an Irish Castle, Rahaly, in Peterswell, County Galway, Ireland. (The Keep of the five-story castle featured a hidden room that allowed castle defenders to drop oil on invading troops).
Aware of the heritage and beauty of Ronnie and Lucy’s farm ground, Lost Run’s developers sought to preserve the property’s magnificence and spirit when developing the land for a select group of homeowners. Lost Run’s developers worked for three years to design a community that Ronnie and Lucy – the self-proclaimed “Mayors of Eagle Village,” would approve of. They have been honored to be entrusted with this beautiful and special piece of land.