Art Collector could pay off for the British campaign

Viewers will no longer cheer from the stands and photos will capture fewer hugs and congratulatory handshakes.

But that moment – when the horses leave the gate and the words “they go” are spoken – will always contain palpable excitement.

Because the Kentucky Derby is not just a horse race.

The oldest continuous sporting event in the United States brings people together from all over the world, even if it’s only for two minutes.

Bruce Lunsford understands the importance of tradition.

“The Derby energizes people around the world, and this enthusiasm gives Kentuckians a chance to share the best of our city and state,” he said. “Whether we do it in May or September, our love for the thoroughbred industry and the history of the Kentucky Derby is constant.”

From a successful career in business and public service to his pursuit of a passion for horse racing, the northern Kentucky native has always been deeply rooted in the Bluegrass.

In 1965 Lunsford arrived at the University of Kentucky as an enthusiastic freshman. He worked as an intramural advisor and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

“During my first year, my friends and I would go to Keeneland on the weekends. I will always remember being there in 1966 for the Blue Grass Stakes when the favorite, Graustark, led most of the race and then took a bad step – to lose by a nose to Abe’s Hope, ”recalls- he. “I fell in love with racing that day and my dream was to own a horse that could compete in the Blue Grass Stakes.”

But this dream would require serious commitment.

In 1969 Lunsford graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After graduation he went to work for an accounting firm in Cincinnati. Then it was evening classes at law school.

“I am a firm believer in the formative years where you spend part of your life learning and preparing to live,” Lunsford said. “I have accumulated a lot of things in a short period of time. I completed five years of public service in accounting, passed my CPA exam, and moved on to practice law. It was a great experience for me.

At the age of 32, Lunsford was appointed first Secretary of State for Commerce by Governor John Y. Brown Jr. Then he co-founded Vencor Inc. – the national healthcare group known as Kindred. . Its successful businesses, which also include Atria Communities, Lunsford Capital and Ventas Inc., ultimately employed more than 100,000 people across the country.

Additionally, from 1983 to 1987 Lunsford was a member of the UK board of directors and from 1991 to 2017 he was a board member of various prestigious companies including Churchill Downs.

Lunsford has always been active in the thoroughbred industry, but he has vowed never to participate in the Derby unless he has a competitor.

This is where Art Collector comes in.

The locally bred horse has become ‘the one to watch’ after claiming victory at the Ellis Park Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes.

“The timing of the race was providential for Art Collector. He came out of a race earlier this year a little bruised. In the spring he was resting, swimming and re-educating himself at Kesmarc in Versailles, then he resumed training with Tommy Drury at the Skylight Training Center in Louisville, ”explained Lunsford. “Tommy has done a great job preparing Art Collector at this time to be a serious contender among the best three year olds in our industry. Having the Derby in September made our long-held dream a possibility for Art Collector.

Now Lunsford is giving Kentuckians – especially the British community – more reason to rally to the Derby hope. The former UK student has pledged to donate 10% of Art Collector’s Derby winnings to support UK fundraising campaign Kentucky Can.

“Bruce’s generous contribution links Kentucky’s long tradition of horse racing with our enduring history as a Commonwealth institution,” said President Eli Capilouto. “As a University of, for and with Kentucky, it is an example of how we carry out our mission of serving our community on campus and beyond in the areas of education, research, services and care. “

The comprehensive campaign increases students’ chances of success, funds innovative research, improves healthcare, strengthens the alumni network, and improves athletic programs.

“The education I received in the UK has been the foundation of my career, and it has been a pleasure to support the students of the College of Arts and Sciences as they consider a career in public service,” said Lunsford said. “In addition, I am more than enthusiastic about Eli Capilouto’s leadership and the great work he is doing in the UK.”

Over the years, Lunsford has continued to give back to the university by establishing the Lunsford Scholarship Program in Citizenship and Public Service at the College of Arts and Sciences with a pledge of $ 1 million.

The program provides A&S students with the opportunity to pursue educational opportunities outside of the classroom, including study abroad, internships, service-based learning, and undergraduate research. In addition to the scholarships, the donation also supports a symposium and a series of conferences that will take place each year.

“I really believe in the opportunities that come with your education,” Lunsford continued. “The College of Arts and Sciences gave me a quality education in broad areas like history and political science, which matched my accounting courses well. “

Lunsford says his time in the UK opened doors of opportunity for him, allowing him to pursue his passion and purpose. Now he hopes to continue his long tradition of helping deserving students.

“Looking back, there really wasn’t much I could have asked the University of Kentucky that I didn’t get.”

Norma D. Ross