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Kentucky Horse Park

Sunset behind the Man O'War statue at the Kentucky Horse Park
Date: 01/17/2009

When we visited Lexington last weekend for the stud farm open houses, we also stopped by the Kentucky Horse Park. The Horse Park is a very popular attraction for horse fans, with several retired champions in residence at the Hall of Champions plus statues and the graves of several horses including the great Man O'War. On arrival, visitors are greeted by the huge statue of Man o'War visible from the entrance road, and a statue of Secretariat on the path to the main entrance. The International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddlebred Museum are located on the property, and the Park hosts competitions including the prestigious Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The Horse Park will host the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010, the first time the event will be held outside of Europe, with a new grandstand under construction.

Here are photos of some of the big horses living at the park plus a few other treats for you to enjoy. Click the smaller photos to view a larger version.

Farms visited in 2009: Ashford Stud, Darley America, Lane's End Farm, Shadwell Farm, Stonewall Farm, Three Chimneys, Vinery Kentucky, WinStar Farm, bonus coverage The Keeneland Sale with Azeri and Island Fashion

The first thing you see as you enter the park is Secretariat Plaza and the life-size bronze statue of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat just after winning the Kentucky Derby being led by his groom, Eddie Sweat, with jockey Ron Turcotte in the irons. The 1500 pound statue was sculpted by Edwin Bogucki and was unveiled in July 2004 and dedicated in April 2006.

Secretariat's lifetime past performances with lots of his history and photos plus the Store where you can buy lots of different items.

Funny Cide is best known as the only New York bred to win the Kentucky Derby and the first gelding since 1929 to wear the roses. He also won the Preakness, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Massachusetts Handicap, and the Dominion Day. At the age of six, he shipped to Finger Lakes to take the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap in what was his final start, ending a career where he won 11 of 38 races and earned $3,529,412 for owners Sackatoga Stable, a group of high school buddies from Sackets Harbor, New York. Trainer Barclay Tagg kept Funny Cide as his stable pony for over a year, before moving to the Hall of Champions in December 2008 to become their newest resident.

Funny Cide's farewell at Saratoga, includes links to lots more photos of him racing.

Alysheba, the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner, is the second newest member of the Hall of Champions. Given his advanced age, he has taken the position of honor, moving into John Henry's former stall and paddock. Among his many stakes wins, the son of Alydar won the 1987 Kentucky Derby and the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic. He retired with 11 wins in 26 starts and earnings of $6,670,242, with Eclipse Awards for champion 3-year old in 1987 and champion older horse and Horse of the Year in 1988. He retired to Lane's End where he sired 11 stakes winners, before being sold to the Saudi Arabian royal family. In October 2008, King Abdullah returned him home as a gift to the American people after 8 years in the royal stables.

Kona Gold was a champion sprinter based in Southern California. The highlight of his career was winning the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint which earned him the sprinter Eclipse Award that year, but he also won the San Carlos, the Bing Crosby twice, the Potrero Grande twice, the Palos Verdes, the Ancient Title, the El Conejo twice, and the Los Angeles Handicap. He retired from racing at the age of 9, with a career record of 14 wins in 30 starts earning $2,293,384 for owner-trainer Bruce Headley and co-owners Andrew Molasky and Michael Singh. Like Funny Cide, his trainer kept him as a stable pony until he was eventually moved to the Hall of Champions on November 30, 2007.

Kona Gold winning the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint

Cigar was racing's all time leading money winner for more than a decade before finally being passed by Curlin in September 2008. He tied the modern record of 16 straight victories, starting with an allowance race at Aqueduct in 1994 and ending off by a defeat in the Pacific Classic in 1996. The streak included wins in the NYRA Mile (since renamed in his honor), the Donn Handicap twice, the Breeders' Cup Classic, and the inaugural running of the Dubai World Cup. Finishing a close third in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic at Woodbine, he retired with 19 wins in 33 starts earning $9,999,815 for owner Allen Paulson. However, at stud Cigar was found to be infertile so his new owners, an Italian insurance company, loaned him to the Horse Park.

Cigar at the 1996 Pacific Classic, at the farm in 1998, and making an appearance at Turfway Park in 2000.

Da Hoss is remembered for winning the 1996 Breeders' Cup Mile, then after an extended layoff and off of just one prep, coming back to win the 1998 edition. He also won the Best Turn, Jersey Derby, Del mar Derby, the Fourstardave, and the Pennsylvania Governors' Cup. He retired with 12 wins in 20 starts for owner Prestonwood Farm and trainer Michael Dickinson, earning $1,931,558. Until Ouija Board won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2004 and 2006, Da Hoss was the only horse to win the same Breeders' Cup race in non-consecutive years.

Da Hoss winning the 1996 Breeders' Cup Mile and after winning the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile

Western Dreamer is a standardbred pacer and the only gelding of any breed to win a Triple Crown. In 1997 he won the Pacing Triple Crown and went on to be the Champion 3-year-old Pacing Colt in the US and Canada, Pacer of the Year in the US and Canada, and Horse of the Year in Canada. In 5 years of racing, he won 27 of 91 starts and $1.8 million. He is quite calm and the one horse they always let people pet when they visit the Hall of Champions.

Video of Western Dreamer winning the 1997 Cane Pace at Yonkers Raceway

John Henry lived at the Kentucky Horse Park for 22 years before his death at the age of 32 due to kidney failure on October 8, 2007, and his many fans continue to deliver flowers to his grave. Sold as a yearling for just $1100 and as a 3-year-old for $25,000, John Henry went on to win 39 of 83 starts and earned $6,591,860, at the time racing's all-time money leader. Among those 39 victories, he won the inaugural Arlington Million in 1981 and came back to win the same race in 1984, the Oak Tree Turf Championship and Hollywood Invitational Handicap three times each, the San Luis Rey and the Santa Anita Handicap twice each, along with the Hialeah Turf Cup, San Gabriel, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Turf Classic, and the Sunset. He was named champion turf horse four times and Horse of the Year twice. In 1990 he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs.

John Henry obituary with lots of photos of him before he died plus memorials from his funeral.

Man O'War is buried just inside the entrance to the park grounds alongside the Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who was his most famous son, and several of his other sons and daughters. The bronze statue was sculpted by Herbert Haseltine and originally stood over his grave on the grounds of Faraway Farm, where he died in 1948. Both his grave and the statue were moved to the Kentucky Horse Park in 1977. Man O'War, who won 20 of 21 races lifetime, is considered by many to be the greatest thoroughbred of the 20th century. To the right is the front and back of the historic plaque by the statue, which you can read if you click for the large version.

More about Man O'War
Man O'War at stud and when he was racing

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