Secretariat Center Gets Financial Boost From Ryanair, Whitney

The Thoroughbred industry has taken two giant steps toward matching a pledge of $500,000 from distiller Maker's Mark for the development at the Kentucky Horse Park of the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

In recent years, Maker's Mark and Keeneland have teamed up to produce special commemorative bottles of the Kentucky bourbon, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local charities. This year, in the first of a three-year Triple Crown program, the commemorative bottles featured the likeness of Secretariat, with proceeds earmarked for the planned retirement and adoption facility at the Horse Park. Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, and his jockey, Ron Turcotte, joined Keeneland and Maker's Mark officials in a special signing at the Lexington track, where the distiller is also a race sponsor.

The Secretariat Center, built on 22 acres, will house 20 horses, all available for public adoption. The facility will be available for other retirement and adoption organizations and not just the TRF. Officials said it could be opened as early as spring of 2004.

The TRF has developed a number of sponsorship opportunities for the Secretariat Center, ranging in price from $1,000 to $100,000, in an effort to match the Maker's Mark pledge. One such opportunity, the adtoption center, received a $100,000 sponsorship from Ryanair, the Irish airline founded by Dr. Tony Ryan, owner of Castleton Lyons Farm.

During a TRF luncheon at Keeneland on Friday, Marylou Whitney, who along with Penny Chenery was acknowledged as TRF's earliest supporter and fund-raiser, pledged $100,000 to sponsor the Secretariat Center's barn. "I remember how difficult it was to get anyone to help with this cause 22 years ago when it all started," said Whitney, who with husband Jon Hendrickson is revitalizing the Whitney Stables while also maintaining the Whitney tradition of philanthropy. "They've come so far and deserve support."

Remaining sponsorship opportunities include (Sponsor Name) Secretariat Drive ($100,000), Sponsor Circle ($75,000), Sponsor Arena ($50,000), Sponsor Business Center ($35,000), 6 Paddocks ($15,000), 10 stalls ($10,500), Sponsor Named Entranceway Tiles ($2,500), and Contributors Walkway ($1,000).