posted by Fran Jurga | 17 November 2008 | The Jurga Report on Equisearch.com
If they had run the Derby yesterday, the blanket of roses draped over the winner's withers would have been pink instead of the traditional red ones.
Yesterday was not "business as usual" at the iconic Louisville racetrack, as 900 breast cancer survivors joined the state's First Lady, Jane Beshear, in raising awareness and funds for the prevention of breast cancer among the racetrack's employees.
Beshear's "Horses and Hope" program has been hosting awareness events at Kentucky's racetracks through October. Beshear has built on her relationships in the equine industry to deliver breast cancer education and services to racetrack workers and their families by hosting fundraising events at the state's tracks. So many supporters showed up at Churchill Downs that a second dining room had to be turned over to the group!
"There are over 80,000 equine related employees across the Bluegrass, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured," Beshear points out. "These individuals are the backbone of our signature industry and I am committed to giving back to the people that help to make Kentucky the horse capital of the world."
A committee of women who work in the equine industry is the engine that drives the program. It's called "The Pink Stable" and yesterday they turned the racetrack pink! Pink is the symbolic color of breast cancer awareness and fund-raising and not a color normally seen at the racetrack. All that changed yesterday!
Jockeys, outriders and grooms wore pink clothing or accents, and a pink cosmopolitan was the drink of the day. Winston, the mascot horse of the Kentucky Derby Museum, wore panniers as he circulated through the crowd so that donations to cancer research could be deposited in his saddle bags. A feature race was the "Horses and Hope" Stakes, and cancer survivors were invited to pose for the win photo in the winners circle.
While the fundraising group partied in the clubhouse, a mobile medical unit was set up in the stable area, offering breast cancer awareness information and free mammograms to women working in the barns and at the track.
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the twin spires of Churchill Downs have been swathed in pink spotlights.
It's wonderful to see an initiative like this to help racetrack workers. The event also brought 900 racegoers, mostly women, to the racetrack to meet Jane Beshear and be part of the fundraiser. Many of those women are probably not regular visitors to Churchill Down, so horse racing won, too!