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Museum Dedicated to the Horse

Not far from our campground in Georgetown is the Kentucky Horse Park and Museum. We took Wednesday, May 24 to visit this working horse farm, international equestrian competition venue, and an educational theme park opened in 1978 in Lexington, Kentucky. The stated mission of the Park has been to celebrate our relationship with the horse through education, exhibition, engagement and competition. Owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, each year they welcome over 500,000 visitors from around the world.

As we walked the beautiful grounds we visited the International Museum of the Horse (IMH), a Smithsonian Affiliate, which examines the role of horses throughout world history, from ancient times to today’s most popular sporting events. In addition to permanent and featured exhibits, the IMH exhibits a collection of equine art from artists around the world.

The excitement of the racetrack is brought to life by the elite group of champion horses that reside at the park's Hall of Champions. Thoroughbred legends Funny Cide and Point Given are current residents of the Hall of Champions.

Winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Funny Cide earned the nickname “Gutsy Gelding” as he achieved a number of firsts to become the “people’s horse.” Sent off at odds of nearly 13-1, Funny Cide scored a decisive win in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, defeating the royally bred favorite Empire Maker. He became the first New York-bred in history to wear the blanket of roses.

Two weeks later, in the Preakness Stakes, he proved the Derby was no fluke, winning the second jewel of the Triple Crown by over 9 lengths. Funny Cide became the 30th horse in history to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown

The Belmont Stakes brought Funny Cide home to New York. In torrential rain, a record crowd of over 100,000 fans greeted the hometown hero. However, the fairy tale ending was not to be. Funny Cide battled through the long stretch to finish third in the Belmont Stakes, losing the race, and the Triple Crown, by only 5 lengths.

Point Given was the first Thoroughbred in history to win four consecutive million-dollar races. Massive, powerful, consistent, determined, and sometimes hard to handle, Point Given showed early on that he had speed and stamina: two essential elements for a horse vying for the Triple Crown.



The Big Red Train began his three-year-old season as expected, with easy victories in Derby prep races, making him the horse to watch in the upcoming Triple Crown races.

Point Given entered the Churchill Downs starting gate as the 9-5 favorite. He tracked the leaders while chasing a blistering pace, but weakened in the Derby stretch, finishing a disappointing fifth. His fifth-place finish in the 2001 Derby was the only off-the-board finish in his entire career.

The “real” Point Given showed up in the Preakness Stakes, where he took command early to win easily.

Five weeks later, his stretch run in the Belmont Stakes brought back memories of another stellar chestnut: Secretariat. Point Given trounced the competition in the Belmont Stakes, winning by more than 12 lengths.

On our way way back to the parking lot we stopped by the burial site of the great Man o' War, the most famous Thoroughbred race horse of the 20th century, buried at the park in a memorial with a statue dedicated to his life. Buried with him are some of his offspring, including Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who was upset by Seabiscuit in their famous match race in 1938.

It was fun to see Karen in her "Happy Place" and I enjoyed learning more about this very complex subject and elaborate history of the horse. The relationship between these beautiful creatures and humans is truly an amazing story.


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