from Churchill Downs
Eight Belles, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) but suffered a catastrophic injury moments after the race, will be honored by Churchill Downs Inc. through a series of charitable contributions and initiatives, including the interment of her remains at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
The announcement was made June 3 in conjunction with the filly’s owner, Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm, and the Kentucky Derby Museum.
“Churchill Downs and the entire Kentucky Derby family were devastated by the fatal injury to Eight Belles, and the shock of her tragic loss continues to resonate through our company and our industry as a whole,” CDI executive vice president Steve Sexton said. “Since her death, we have been exploring ways to pay tribute to her memory while supporting positive changes that will improve the health, safety, and overall welfare of all racehorses.”
The Churchill Downs Foundation and Porter will each contribute $25,000 to the Eight Belles Memorial Fund, established by Thoroughbred Charities of America, for continued research into racehorse injuries and toward the retraining of retired Thoroughbreds for second careers.
Churchill Downs also announced it is renaming the $150,000 La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) in honor of Eight Belles. The race for 3-year-old fillies will continue to be run on the Kentucky Derby day undercard in 2009. The racetrack also plans to conduct an “eight bells” ceremony on Kentucky Derby day in 2009 in the filly’s memory, with details to be announced at a later date.
“The past month has been a time of indescribable highs and crushing lows for me and my family,” Porter said. “We watched Eight Belles run the race of her life in the Kentucky Derby, and that should have been our proudest moment as well as hers. Instead, it all changed in an instant. We’re still grieving and struggling to accept her loss, but even in the midst of our sorrow, we are determined to see something positive come from her death.”
The Kentucky Derby Museum will inter Eight Belles’ remains at the base of a tree to be planted in the filly’s honor. The memorial, located within the museum’s courtyard near the gravesites of four Kentucky Derby winners, will include a bronze plaque dedicating the tree to Eight Belles’ memory.
“The amazing performance by Eight Belles in Kentucky Derby 134 won’t soon be forgotten, and we are privileged to honor her efforts and her sacrifice,” said Lynn Ashton, executive director of the Kentucky Derby Museum. In“We hope our memorial will serve as a lasting tribute to this great filly, and remind every visitor who walks through our doors of her very special courage.”
An interment date has not yet been determined.