by Kathleen Adams
For the third year in a row, Churchill Downs Inc. hosted the "Out To Pasture "Party, a benefit for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. More than $67,000 was raised for the organization.
Shortly after the last race June 12, the fourth and fifth floors of the racetrack's Jockey Club Suites were transformed into a prohibition era speakeasy, where men in Zoot suits mingled with women clad in traditional flapper dresses. Included among the 200 or so guests was former jockey Jean Cruguet, who is probably best known among racing enthusiasts for having ridden the sport's only unbeaten Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew.
The connections of this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Smarty Jones, were also expected to attend the event. Trainer John Servis and owners Roy and Patricia Chapman were at Churchill Downs earlier in the day to receive their engraved Derby trophies and to sign autographs for fans, but by early afternoon, it was announced the day's festivities proved too tiring for Roy Chapman, who suffers emphysema. So Team Smarty wasn't represented at the party.
John Asher, vice-president of racing communications for Churchill Downs, and Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg served as auctioneers during the event's live auction segment. Live auction items featured packages such as "The Seabiscuit," which included a tour of the TV Games Network studios in Los Angeles, appearance as a guest handicapper on the TVG set and a trip to Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for a weekend of racing. Another package titled "The Sting" features a weekend of racing at Saratoga Race Course, dinner at Siro's, and a stay at a bed and breakfast.
But the item that brought the highest bid of the evening was a bronze sculpture and it brought in $11,000. CDI president Tom Meeker purchased the sculpture of a mare and foal by Lorenzo Ghigleri.
Julie Koenig Loignon, director of communications for CDI and chairperson for the fundraiser, said she was pleased with the results of the live and silent auctions. "The guests embraced the important cause of caring for our retired racehorses," she said.
The highest-priced item in the silent auction was "Rosebud," a gicleé print consigned by artist Rita Shugart that sold for $1,500. The silent auction also included the halter of 1994 2-year-old filly champion Flanders, a donation from Overbrook Farm that fetched a winning bid of $1,200. Halters for Kentucky-based stallions Skip Away and Mineshaft went for $1,100 and $1,000, respectively.
This year's Out To Pasture Party raised $67,965 for the TRF, which places ex-racehorses at prisons and juvenile detention facilities across the United States. Koenig Loignon said overall, net revenue was down from what it was last year. In 2003, the Out To Pasture Party brought in $75,200 for the TRF.