Unsung Heroes: Museum Director Hopes To Spotlight, Celebrate African-American Horsemen

by | 01.23.2017 | 11:22am
Secretariat, Eddie Sweat, and Ron Turcotte in the KY Derby winner's circle.

It began as an offshoot of a current project, but it quickly has become a major endeavor of its own.

While conducting research for the future exhibit “Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf”, which will open at the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2018, museum director Bill Cooke realized that there was so much more to the story than the role African-American jockeys had played in horse racing. Often ignored were the countless grooms and other horsemen that had also been pivotal in the sport's history.

In a recent interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, Cooke said that he now is determined to establish the 'National Chronicle of African-American Horsemen'. Cooke's goal is to set up a national database to find and document the often overlooked men and women that spent their lives caring for Thoroughbreds – whether it was on a farm or at the racetrack.

According to the Herald-Leader, Cooke has been in the process of contacting historians and museums around the country to discuss funding for the endeavor.

“…it just kept turning into a much bigger story than I thought it was,” Cooke said. “There were so many major points that needed to be addressed to even understand what happened around Lexington, not to mention the rest of the country.”

Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader


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