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Barbaro and owners to be honoured on Derby day

April 26, 2007

A new Kentucky Derby champion will be crowned on May 5, but organisers of the great race are not about to forget last year's victor, Barbaro.

Representatives from Churchill Downs racetrack will honour the champion, and pay tribute to Barbaro and his owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, during a special winner's circle ceremony on Kentucky Derby Day.

The Jacksons will be recognised for their outstanding dedication to Barbaro, who suffered a catastrophic leg break in the Preakness Stakes on May 20 last year, and was humanely euthanized in January 2007after his laminitis, a complication related to his original injury, worsened.

During the eight months that Barbaro received veterinary treatment at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, the Jacksons never wavered in their commitment to ensure that Barbaro received the best of care, regardless of the expense, and they graciously shared Barbaro's story with millions of racing fans worldwide through regular and open communication with the members of the media and public.

"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," said Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton.

"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 honoured 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 winner's circle ceremony honoring the Jacksons and Barbaro will begin with a video replay of Barbaro's stirring 6½-length Derby victory, which will be broadcast over Churchill Downs' large infield video boards. The ceremony 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 2006 Kentucky Derby winner.

Additionally, Churchill Downs Incorporated President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Evans will join Steve Sexton in presenting the Jacksons with a $US25,000 donation from Churchill Downs Incorporated and its racetracks to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities - Barbaro Memorial Fund.

The Barbaro Memorial Fund is raising awareness and money for equine health and safety research in Barbaro's name.

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 well-known artist Susan Sommer-Luarca. The artist, who will allow Derby Day patrons to watch as she recreates the likeness of the Kentucky Derby 132 winner, has 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.

Churchill Downs has hosted the Kentucky Derby continuously since 1875.

 

 

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