(received via press release; edited for blogging purposes)
LEXINGTON, KY (January 9, 2008) The Kentucky Horse Park will be honored with the 2007 Special Eclipse Award from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), National Turf Writers Association (NTWA), and the Daily Racing Form.
The Special Eclipse Award recognizes outstanding individual achievements in, or contributions to, the sport of Thoroughbred Racing. John Nicholson, executive director of the park stated, "This award represents an enormous effort by many people and horses at the park who played a role in the celebration of the special bond between horse and man. For 30 years, the Kentucky Horse Park has honored, cared for, chronicled and assisted horses of all breeds and disciplines, and we humbly and gratefully accept the honor being returned to us in this way.
"There has always been a deep, abiding, intangible something that binds the hearts of man and horse. This relationship is the soul of the Kentucky Horse Park," continued Nicholson, who will accept the Special Eclipse Award on behalf of the Kentucky Horse Park by the NTRA on January 21 in Beverly Hills. (Last year's recipients of the Special Eclipse Award were Roy and Gretchen Jackson and the New Bolton Center for their excellent care of Barbaro.)
"The Eclipse Award steering committee strongly believed that the Kentucky Horse Park was most deserving of the Special Award for its extraordinary contribution and dedication to the Thoroughbred industry and the wonderful experience that its millions of visitors have enjoyed over the years," said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA. "The special care for the great racehorse John Henry in his retirement, and his most dignified passing in 2007, symbolizes the love and devotion of the men and women who work at the Kentucky Horse Park each day."
The Kentucky Horse Park is a 1,200-acre equine "theme park" and competition complex. Nearly one million visitors come to the park each year to see, touch, learn about, and experience horses, and to compete in horse shows. The park includes the International Museum of the Horse - a Smithsonian Affiliate - and the American Saddlebred Museum. Perhaps most conspicuous is the Hall of Champions which has been (and is) home to a pantheon of elite champions of the racetrack and show ring, including Eclipse Award-winning Thoroughbred celebrities Cigar, Kona Gold and the late John Henry.
In 2010, the Kentucky Horse Park will host the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which will be the largest equestrian sporting event ever held in the United States, and is expected to draw more than 600,000 spectators, be broadcast to more than 460 million worldwide television viewers, and draw nearly 2,000 media from around the world.
Nicholson concluded, "The 21st century is the golden age of the horse in America. They are our heroes, our partners and our friends, and as long as that relationship flourishes, the Kentucky Horse Park will be here to celebrate it."