Derby Documentary Released in Theaters

Derby Documentary Released in Theaters
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Filmmakers John (left) and Brad Hennegan have partnered with Churchill Downs Inc. and Truly Indie for distribution of the brothers' award-winning documentary "The First Saturday in May".

(Edited press release)

Churchill Downs Inc. has partnered with Truly Indie and filmmakers John and Brad Hennegan to distribute their award-winning documentary "The First Saturday in May" to U.S. theaters for a week-long national run in 18 major markets starting April 18. A special one-night Louisville premiere is scheduled for April 13 at the Louisville Palace Theatre.

"The First Saturday in May, " featuring Barbaro, chronicles the journey of a diverse cast of six hard-working trainers and their jockeys in pursuit of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

“Brad and I truly appreciate the sponsorship from Churchill Downs Inc. to help make the distribution of "The First Saturday in May" to a national audience possible,” said John Hennegan. “Our goal was to make horse racing cool again by telling the stories of the hard-working, dedicated, and resilient individuals who dedicate their lives to the horses they love. As lifelong horse racing fans, the documentation of this film was a true passion of ours.”

In addition to providing an intimate inside look at the people who dedicate their lives to horse racing, the film also features never-before-seen footage of a young Barbaro — the Thoroughbred who captured the fascination of the world, first as he made history on the racetrack with a 6 1/2-length romp in the 2006 Derby, and then as he bravely battled complications from a catastrophic leg injury and laminitis.

A trailer of the movie can be viewed and downloaded from the movie’s website,

The Hennegan brothers have pledged 25% of their Truly Indie box office revenues, as well as a portion of revenues generated when the film is released on DVD, to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, which raises and distributes funding for research beneficial to horses.

The Hennegan brothers and other stars of the film are scheduled to attend the Louisville premiere at The Louisville Palace Theatre. General admission tickets to the 5 p.m. showing will be $10 and include a post-film question and answer session with luminaries. A special VIP package, which includes premium seating and admission to a post-screening reception with the Hennegans, will be available for $40. Tickets will go on sale March 21.

“Those of us fortunate to have screened this film know how "The First Saturday in May" embodies the spirit, passion, and tradition of the Kentucky Derby,” said Churchill Downs Inc. vice president Dave Tompkins. “We believe this fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most famous horse race has the potential to draw new fans to the sport and grow the popularity of the Kentucky Derby. We also hope to introduce movie goers to our new Kentucky Derby Party program, which will be promoted through the film’s trailers and screenings.”

Kentucky Derby Party is designed to connect millions of Kentucky Derby fans worldwide who enjoy hosting annual Kentucky Derby parties on the first Saturday in May. For more information, visit

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