Fans of thoroughbred horse racing should consider making a trip to Kentucky for many reasons. There is Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. There is also Keeneland, one of the most historic tracks in the country. Another attraction that often gets overlooked is the Kentucky Horse Park.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a celebration of the sport of racing. It is also home to a number of retired champion horses. There is no better way to learn about the history of the sport while getting up close and personal with an actual race horse.
About the Kentucky Horse Park
For more than 200 years, horses have inhabited the ground at the Kentucky Horse Park. The park rests on 9,000 acres that were originally a gift from Patrick Henry, the Governor of Virginia in 1777. A portion of that gift was devoted to the creation of what would ultimately become the Kentucky Horse Park.
The ownership of the land has changed multiple times in its history. It was in 1972 that the Commonwealth of Kentucky purchased the land from Mary Edwards for $2.7 million. In 1978 the Commonwealth took measures to official create the Kentucky Horse Park. It is the only park in the world today which celebrates the relationship between man and horse.
Kentucky Horse Park Attractions
Those who visit the park will soon discover that it is more than just a museum dedicated to horse racing in Kentucky. It is a celebration of all horses, not just race horses. There are multiple attractions on the property which include:
- Hall of Champions
- Mounted Police Barn
- Live Exhibits
Many people who visit the Kentucky Horse Park are particularly excited when they are able to view the statues of horse racing legends. One of these statues is dedicated to Isaac Burns Murphy. Murphy was the son of a slave and, according to many, the greatest jockey of all time.
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The amazing Man O’ War is also immortalized in a statue. Alysheba and Cigar also have their own statues. All of them are impressive, but it is the life-sized statue of Secretariat that gets most of the attention. It is not just the impressive depiction of Big Red, but the inclusion of his groom. Eddie Sweat became the only groom to ever be immortalized in a statue at the park. The statue also includes jockey Ron Turcotte.
The Hall of Champions
At the park one of the most popular exhibits is the Hall of Champions. In this special area some of the legends of thoroughbred horse racing are kept. They come to the park after their racing career is over to live out the remainder of their days in splendor and ultimate comfort.
Retired horses in the Hall of Champions are allowed to enjoy themselves in large paddocks. They are also given the very best in care. The remainder of their days are spent receiving visits from visitors who want to stand in the presence of a thoroughbred racing champion. It is quite a spectacle to see horses such as Funny Cide, Go For Gin, and Point Given in one place.
Considering that all thoroughbred horses are descended from one of three original stallions, when you see a horse at the Kentucky Horse Park you are actually being given the opportunity to touch history.
Horse Shows and Performances
Depending on when you choose to visit the Kentucky Horse Park there are special guided tours and performances available. You can see some of the horses parade, and also enjoy information from a mounted guide.
Many people state that they appreciate the inclusion of other horse breeds as well as thoroughbreds. Standardbreds and other types of horses can often be found in parades or other performances that are held at the park.
Trips to the park can often be combined with many big events of the horse racing season. A good time to visit is in the fall. The temperatures in Kentucky are pleasant, and there is also racing action available at nearby Keeneland for a time in the fall.