Churchill Downs has been selected as the final resting place for 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who was euthanized one year ago after a lengthy battle with laminitis. The announcement was made Tuesday by Barbaro’s owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, at a Churchill Downs news conference.
Barbaro’s remains were cremated following his death on Jan. 29, 2007, and his ashes will be interred outside of Gate 1 at Churchill Downs, in a large elevated space enclosed by bricks that is currently used as a garden. The site, which will be open to the public, will include a larger-than-life-sized bronze statue of the Kentucky Derby 132 winner that will be commissioned by the Jacksons and loaned to Churchill Downs as part of Barbaro’s official memorial site.
“Gretchen and I are pleased to be collaborating with Churchill Downs in this wonderful project,” said Roy Jackson. “In the year that has just preceded, we have spent much time thinking about Barbaro’s memorial and where it would be best placed. Churchill Downs became the obvious site for us. It was here that he ran his best race. It was here where we spent our most memorable day as horse owners and breeders. It was here where his racing fans could visit daily, and it was here at Churchill Downs where he was cordially invited to rest. We look forward to working with Steve Sexton and his team.”
In the coming weeks, Churchill Downs will install a bronze marker in the garden outside Gate 1 to designate the area where Barbaro’s ashes and bronze statue will be located.
The Jacksons are currently considering a select group of artists for the project and plan to make a final decision on the artist and statue design in the next few months. The Jacksons and Churchill Downs anticipate the statue’s completion and the formal unveiling and dedication of the Barbaro memorial site sometime in 2009.
To date, Barbaro will become the only horse buried on the grounds of Churchill Downs. The adjacent Kentucky Derby Museum has the remains of four Kentucky Derby winners interred on its property — Sunny’s Halo (1983), Carry Back (1961), Swaps (1955), and Broker’s Tip (1933).
Following today’s news conference, the Jacksons participated in an autograph signing session at the Kentucky Derby Museum, which was open to the public.