James E. "Ted" Bassett was born in Lexington on October 21, 1921, the grandson of J. Edward Bassett. After serving with the Marines in the South Pacific during the Second World War, he graduated from Yale University. From 1956 to 1967, Mr. Bassett was the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Public Safety and from 1964 to 1967 the director of the Kentucky State Police.
During 1968, Mr. Bassett became an assistant to Louis L. Haggin, II, President of the Keeneland Association. In 1970 and 1986, he was appointed President and Chairman, respectively, of the Keeneland Association. In 1988, he was also named the President of the Breeders' Cup LTD, sponsors of the Breeders' Cup races. In addition, he was President of the Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Club of America and a Curator of Transylvania University.
Mr. Bassett continued a century old family tradition with his selection as a director in 1970 of First Security and in 1980 of the First Security Corporation.