Derby Week Fundraiser for Second Stride

Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill expected to attend.

Louisville pub Molly Malone's will host a Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) party to raise money for Second Stride at 5:30 p.m., Monday, April 29 at its Highlands location.

Because the event was so popular and successful last year, Molly Malone's has decided to host an annual party and fundraiser to benefit Second Stride, a not-for-profit group that provides rehabilitation and retraining of retired Thoroughbred racehorses.

Silent auction items include dinner certificates from local favorites like Pat's Steak House and Dish on Market, a 22-person catered luxury suite for the Louisville Bats, or gift packages from The Old 502 Winery, Makers Mark, and Woodford Reserve. Live auction items feature many racing industry-related pieces, such as halters from past champions and stable tours, as well as golf outings with jockeys, a University of Louisville basketball package, and even a flight training session from Louisville Aviation.

In addition, Molly Malone's is donating 10% of its proceeds that evening to Second Stride. A minimum $10 donation is suggested at the door.

"Everybody had such a great time last year that it was an easy decision to make this an annual event", said Tomas O'Riordan, of Molly Malone's. "It was especially fun for those in the horse industry such as the jockeys, owners, and trainers. The rest of the week is filled with a lot of hard work and a lot of appearances at fancy galas and receptions. This is a night where they can just kick back and relax and mingle with racing fans, all while helping the most essential element of racing, the horse. After all, if it was not for these noble animals giving it their all, it'd just be a bunch of short people running around a muddy field now, wouldn't it?"

Expected to attend for his second year is last year's Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill. Last year he donated a halter from I'll Have Another , who would win the Kentucky Derby.

"This industry is a superstitious bunch," said Jill Byrne, Churchill Downs racing analyst and avid supporter of Second Stride. "You can be sure that many will follow Doug's recreation of last year's path to victory. This is the best kept secret of Derby week."

Byrne is graciously donating her time and efforts again this year as celebrity emcee of the event. Well known HRTV handicapper, Aaron Vercruysse will be the auctioneer.

Kim Smith, founder and director of Second Stride, hopes this auction will surpass last year's donations, which was the organization's largest fundraiser to date. With this year's proceeds, Smith believes Second Stride can achieve its goal of helping to retrain and re-home 500 Thoroughbreds by the end of 2013.

"With thousands of racehorses born in the United States each year, it is important for them to have a place to go after they leave the track," Smith said. "The way former racehorses are handled and trained their first few months away from the track can influence the opportunities they have for the rest of their lives. Many of our former horses are now competing in dressage, eventing, and polo. They are also working as search and rescue horses, ranch cutting horses, lesson horses and trail horses. And some just bring joy to their new owners as pleasure horses. No matter what the new placement, the benefit to both horse and human is immeasurable."