LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 1, 2024) – VisitLEX is partnering with local organizations to celebrate the diverse history of horse racing in honor of the 150th Kentucky Derby at Thursday Night LIVE in the Pavilion at Tandy Park on May 2, 2024.

The event will spotlight the contributions of Black men and women to the equine industry through educational exhibits and presentations by the Legacy Equine AcademyPhoenix RisingAfrican Cemetery No. 2, and Keeneland Library.

Legacy Equine Academy Empowers Diverse Youth

The Legacy Equine Academy (LEA), founded in 2015, is dedicated to providing education and opportunities for young people in the Lexington community to learn about and pursue careers in the equine and agriculture industries.

"We're excited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby while building a strong future for the equine industry," said Ron Mack, Founder of LEA. "By connecting with racially diverse youth, we provide access and exposure to the vast opportunities available."

The LEA will be at the event with information on how to support their mission of raising money for scholarships and programs for aspiring young equestrians.

Keeneland Library Presents Racing's Black Pioneers Exhibit

Keeneland Library will showcase its exhibit, "The Heart of the Turf: Racing's Black Pioneers," which highlights the stories of African Americans who have shaped the horse racing industry throughout history. Attendees can explore the exhibit in the Visitors Center located inside the Historic Courthouse from 5pm to 8pm.

Phoenix Rising and African Cemetery No. 2 Promote Oliver Lewis Celebration

Phoenix Rising and African Cemetery No. 2 will also be present, promoting their upcoming event honoring Oliver Lewis, the first Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. The event will be held on May 17th at the Lyric Theatre Art Gallery. The event will feature Phoenix Rising Legacy Awards by artist LaVon Williams, Color of Silks art by William Wells Brown Students, 2017 Old Hillside Bourbon Company commemorative labels. Shirts honoring Oliver Lewis will be available for purchase in the Visitors Center.

VisitLEX Celebrates Diversity and Legacy

"VisitLEX is proud to sponsor Thursday Night LIVE and bring these organizations together to celebrate the 150th Derby Anniversary," said VisitLEX President Mary Quinn Ramer. "By recognizing the historic accomplishments of African Americans in the horse industry and investing in the future through organizations like the LEA, we ensure our signature industry reflects the rich tapestry of our community."

About the Participating Organizations

  • The Legacy Equine Academy (LEA) provides educational programs and mentorship opportunities for young people interested in equine careers.
  • Phoenix Rising preserves, promotes, and honors the contributions of African Americans in the Bluegrass Region's horse racing industry.
  • African Cemetery No. 2 is the final resting place for several figures in African American horseracing history, including Isaac Murphy, Oliver Lewis, and Abraham Perry.
  • Keeneland Library offers resources and exhibits related to the history and culture of horse racing.