Three Chimneys presents Good News Friday: A Lasting Impact

by | 01.20.2012 | 11:28am

Discussions about Kentucky's signature horse industry often center on the almighty dollar. What is the industry's economic impact to the commonwealth? How many jobs, directly and indirectly, does it create?

Make no mistake, those are very important questions to ask. But the contributions of people in our industry go well beyond paychecks and hit at the very fiber of what makes a community unique. We should be extremely proud of those people and their contributions.

Drive around Central Kentucky and you can't help but notice how individuals in the horse industry have made an enormous impact on the culture, education, and well being of our various communities.

Where would we be, for example, without the late William T. Young, the master of Overbrook Farm. The University of Kentucky's library bears his name, but that's only a small part of what he and his family have meant to the commonwealth. There are the scholarships at Transylvania University awarded every year, contributions to vital organizations like the Red Cross and numerous causes, and the restoration and unyielding support, along with that of his good friend Alex Campbell, of Shaker Village near Harrodsburg. If you've never made that visit, put it high on your list.

Speaking of Alex Campbell (and I'm sure he won't be happy with me for bringing up his name), his quiet but unending philanthropy through the Triangle Foundation has, quite simply, made Lexington a better city in which to live. Thoroughbred Park and Triangle Park are but two of the many contributions he has made to the community.

The University of Kentucky's Gaines Center for the Humanities was a gift from the late John R. Gaines, founder of Gainesway Farm, and his wife Joan.  He also was a major benefactor to the university's Newman Center. Gaines himself was, in my opinion, a Renaissance man, a collector of fine art, a poet, a thinker, a leader. What brought him to Kentucky? Horses.

Gaines also was the driving force in the creation of the Kentucky Horse Park and, of course, the Breeders' Cup. Like Campbell, there are things he did behind the scenes to improve our quality of life that we'll never know about.

The University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center was named after the beloved owner of Calumet Farm, but it would not have been built were it not for the efforts of Dr. Ben Roach and many others.  The Markey Cancer Foundation currently is chaired by horsewoman Sally Humphrey, wife of Shawnee Farm's G. Watts Humphrey, and its board of directors reads like a who's who of the Thoroughbred industry. Without them, and the significant contributions of people like Marylou Whitney and the Farish family among others, the cutting-edge health care many Kentuckians depend upon would not exist.

Then there is the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture's Gluck Equine Research Center, named for the longtime owner of Elmendorf Farm. But without the tireless efforts of horseman Albert Clay, father of Three Chimneys Farms owner Robert Clay, and the contributions of many in the industry, including a $5 million gift from the family of Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, that outstanding institution, which serves all breeds of horses, would not have been created.

Warren Rosenthal of Patchen Wilkes Farm has been a major benefactor of the Kentucky Historical Society, and he's also made a lasting legacy to both the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University. In addition to that, he's been active as a leader in Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass and the Bluegrass Council Boy Scout of America.

Think of the impact on education by people like Marylou Whitney through her support of the Sayre School and Josephine Abercrombie, who founded The Lexington School. The young people educated at both of those institutions will be making differences in our world for generations to come.

Marylou Whitney and husband John Hendrickson have been major supporters of the Headley-Whitney Museum (named for the sister of C.V. Whitney, Marylou's late husband), among many other charities and institutions in the region.

Back on the education front, Bill Casner's creation and support of the Race for Education is another significant contribution to the community that will pay dividends for years and years to come.

There are people like James E. Bassett, the retired Keeneland chairman, who has supported countless community causes. His passion and tireless work on behalf of fund-raising drives have helped create new YMCAs in north and south Lexington and built a new home for the Kentucky Blood Center. And the Keeneland Foundation itself has contributed millions of dollars to countless charitable causes over the years.

I know I have left out names of horse people who have made Kentucky a better place to live in ways both big and small.  But you get the point.

The horse industry is not just about money. It's about people, and their commitment to education, culture, health, and community.

Where would we be without them?

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Thanks to the generosity of Three Chimneys Farm, the sponsor of Good News Friday, a donation of $100 will be made in support of the Keeneland Foundation.  Three Chimneys will be donating $100 each and every week we bring you a story of people or organizations making a positive difference in our world.

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