(Edited press release)
Representatives from Churchill Downs will honor the late 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro and his owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, during a winner’s circle ceremony at this year's Derby May 5. The ceremony will take place between races six and seven at approximately 2:30 p.m. EDT.
The Jacksons, who will attend the 133rd renewals of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and Derby as honored guests of Churchill Downs, will be recognized for their outstanding dedication to Barbaro, who suffered a life-threatening injury in last year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and was humanely euthanized in January after developing laminitis and other complications related to his original injury.
“Roy and Gretchen Jackson achieved racing’s highest honor when their homebred, Barbaro, claimed the roses in last year’s Kentucky Derby,” said Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton. “While winning America’s greatest race is an amazing feat, the Jacksons and their brave horse proved themselves true champions in the way they handled their greatest setback following the Preakness Stakes.
“Barbaro became ‘America’s horse’ because the Jacksons opened their hearts to racing fans around the nation who hoped and prayed that Barbaro would enjoy a full recovery,” continued Sexton. “Even when Barbaro’s struggle came to an end, the Jacksons allowed his many followers to mourn with them. Through all of the highs and lows, Roy and Gretchen Jackson set an outstanding example for horse owners throughout our industry. They always put Barbaro’s best interests first. We are honored to count the Jacksons among our Kentucky Derby family and look forward to thanking them personally for their courageous and compassionate efforts on behalf of Barbaro during our 2007 Kentucky Derby Day celebration.”
The ceremony honoring the Jacksons and Barbaro will begin with a video replay of Barbaro’s stirring 6 1/2-length Derby victory, which will be broadcast over Churchill Downs’ infield video boards. It will also include a special tribute to Barbaro and the Jacksons from local school children, who have designed their own, unique way to remember the Derby winner.
Additionally, Churchill Downs Inc. president and chief executive officer Robert Evans will join Sexton in presenting the Jacksons with a $25,000 donation from the company to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities – Barbaro Memorial Fund, which is raising awareness and money for equine health and safety research in Barbaro’s name.
NTRA volunteers will be at Churchill Downs throughout Kentucky Derby week selling commemorative wristbands featuring the phrase “Riding With Barbaro.” The blue rubber bracelets, similar to the ones made popular by retired cyclist Lance Armstrong, will sell for $2 apiece with proceeds going to the Barbaro Memorial Fund.
Wristbands will be sold at stations inside Gate 1 and 10, as well as inside the Marquee Village area outside Gate 10. NTRA volunteers will also vend the wristbands on foot throughout the track’s grandstand and clubhouse areas on Oaks and Derby Days.
The NTRA Charities – Barbaro Memorial Fund will also benefit from a painting of Barbaro that will be created on Kentucky Derby Day in the Churchill Downs paddock by Susan Sommer-Luarca. The artist, who will allow Derby Day patrons to watch as she recreates the colt, arranged for Barbaro’s jockey, Edgar Prado, to sign the portrait, which will then be donated to the NTRA to be auctioned to benefit the Barbaro Memorial Fund.
Prior to the on-track remembrance, Roy and Gretchen Jackson will participate in a book signing of the official Churchill Downs-licensed book Kentucky Derby 132 Review, a pictorial essay that encapsulates Barbaro’s Run for the Roses. The book signing, sponsored by publisher Moonlight Press, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT in the Churchill Downs store behind Gate 17, adjacent to the paddock.