If going to the Keeneland races doesn’t provide you with enough “Thoroughbred satisfaction,” a number of related art and culture events are occurring around Lexington this month through the Fall race meet and Breeders’ Cup World Championships!
Two Exhibitions at Lexington’s Headley-Whitney Museum:
Through November 8, 2015, two exhibitions are on view for horse lovers:
- Highlighting the Championships: A Breeders’ Cup Collection is showcasing three decades’ worth of related memorabilia, ranging from the 25th Anniversary trophy to photographs and other objects commemorating past champions.
- Treasures from the Farm features artwork, trophies and memorabilia housed at some of the region’s horse farms.
Museum hours are Wednesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 5:00 p.m. More information is available on the Headley-Whitney Museum website.
I Dedicate this Ride: A Play on the Life of Isaac Burns Murphy, Friday & Saturday October 23rd & 24th at The Lyric Theatre (part of the Breeders’ Cup Festival):
This play written by Frank X Walker—who previously published a collection of poems on the same subject—honors African American jockey Isaac Burns Murphy (1861–1896), who during his short lifetime was the first to win the Kentucky Derby three times, aboard Buchanan in 1884, Riley in 1890 and Kingman in 1891. According to Walker, Murphy won an unprecedented 44% of the races he entered, while preferring not to use the whip on his horses. More information on ticket sales can be found here, and both shows are “Pay-What-You-Can,” enabling attendees to pay whatever amount they can afford.
Keeneland Library’s first major art exhibition, Into the Light: The Art and Inspiration of Katey Barrett:
On view through January 29, 2016, this exhibition features 40 works of photography from the Barrett collection, the Library’s first collection of color photography and one that comprehensively documents West Coast racing, including the Breeders’ Cup World Championships held at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park.
Library hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. during the race meet and upcoming November and January sales; more information can be found on the website.
American Academy of Equine Art 2015 Fall Open Juried Exhibition and Sale:
While visiting retired racing heroes at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown just outside of Lexington, be sure to stop by the American Academy’s exhibition of equine paintings and sculpture at The Arts and Cultural Center. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, Noon to 4:00 p.m., and thumbnails of the artwork can be viewed on the website. Also note that Old Friends will be holding its Breeders’ Cup Celebration and fundraiser on Sunday, November 1st at Noon; more details are available here.
The Third Annual Sporting Art Auction, on view at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion:
Last, but certainly not least in this list, this auction of fine sporting art, American paintings and sculpture that is provided in partnership by Keeneland and Lexington’s Cross Gate Gallery will be held on Wednesday, November 18th, but all auction lots are on view now at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. Note that hours are limited from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on race days during the regular meet (not including Breeders’ Cup dates), but viewing appointments can also be made directly with Cross Gate Gallery through October 25th; additionally, works can be viewed from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the November Sale (November 2–14, 2015), and the catalog can be accessed online at the auction website. A presale cocktail reception will be held in the Limestone Cafe and Pavilion Bar from 2:00–4:00 p.m. on the day of the auction.
Of course, the Times couldn’t be more pleased to share that two works by its favorite antebellum artist Edward Troye are part of this year’s auction (read more about Troye here in the Times’ contribution to American Racehorse magazine, “Edward Troye: America’s Equine Artist,” on numbered page 26). Both auction portraits were painted by Troye in the spring of 1865 for Lexington’s R.A. Alexander of Woodburn Farm:
English Eclipse, Lot #17, oil on canvas, 12″ x 16 1/2″: According to Alexander Mackay-Smith who wrote The Race Horses of America, 1832–1872, Portraits and Other Paintings by Edward Troye, “Mr. Alexander had apparently run out of horses of his own for Troye to paint,” and requested that he copy the 1770 portrait of champion English Eclipse by George Stubbs; “as an avowed disciple of Stubbs this must have been a particularly pleasing commission.” It must have also been a pleasure to paint this undefeated giant of the 18th-century turf and foundation sire, whose dominating victory in the Nobleman and Gentleman’s Plate at Epsom in 1769 will forever be remembered for the quotation, “Eclipse first, and the rest nowhere,” as spoken by his future owner, Dennis O’Kelly.
Idlewild, Lot #18, oil on canvas, 12″ x 16 1/2″: This one-eyed, Kentucky-bred mare (one of Lexington’s first crop of foals) was acquired by Woodburn at age 7 following a celebrated career. By age 5, Idlewild had won 15 of 17 starts, including capturing the Woodlawn Vase during its second running in Louisville in 1862; at age 6, she broke the four-mile world record for a mare in 7:26 1/4 over the Long Island Trotting Track. Alexander continued her campaign and at age 9 in 1866, she finished fourth behind the first Travers Stakes winner Kentucky in the Inauguration Stakes at Jerome Park that September, and finished second in the Post Stakes less than a week later; in both races she was piloted by champion African American jockey Abe Hawkins (read more about Abe here). Mackay-Smith noted that Troye painted Idlewild “with her head slightly cocked to the right so as to conceal her left eye which she lost early in life.” What a courageous race mare she was—the Times would be so fortunate to have this portrait of such an inspirational equine grace one of its office walls!
[Photos of the Troye portraits were taken by the Times while on view in the Sales Pavilion, and these two works are located on the Limestone Cafe side; click photos to enlarge]
Thanks for reading, and enjoy these events around town!
Antebellum Turf Times
[toggle hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”white” title_closed=”Show Resources” title_open=”Hide Resources”]Nicholas Clee, Eclipse: The Story of the Rogue, the Madam and the Horse that Changed Racing (London: Transworld Publishers, 2009).
Alexander Mackay-Smith, The Race Horses of America, 1832–1872, Portraits and Other Paintings by Edward Troye (Saratoga Springs: The National Museum of Racing, 1981).
Frank X Walker, Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride (Lexington, KY: Old Cove Press, 2010).
The Sporting Art Auction Catalog[/toggle]