CHURCHILL DOWNS, Ky (LEX18) — Walking through these exhibits at the Kentucky Horse Park is like a trip back in time. To the days of Isaac Murphy, born a slave but destined for greatness.
Oliver Lewis is the winner of the very first Kentucky Derby. His name is just as famous now as his mount, Aristides.
"This industry was born on the backs of the African-American horseman... jockeys, trainers, groomsmen, and even owners, " said Ron Mack who is the Founder of the Legacy Equine Academy.
The Legacy Equine Academy strives to bring that history to today's young people... who, up until now, may not have considered Kentucky's signature industry as an option for them.
"What we try to offer young people is a change in mindset that there are greater opportunities out there beyond what they may know at the middle school and high school level, " said Mack.
"He loves it. He absolutely loves it." said board member Michael Baer. His son has thrived in the academy and learning about his heritage.
"But also, see people who look like him associated and successful in this industry and to blaze a pathway for him to be involved and have that passion in the industry."
It's that passion that moved Michael to join the board himself... working with others to provide scholarships to kids who want to further their education in the equine industry... looking to the past... to envision their own future.
"It's our responsibility to not only educate that there was the tremendous success of African American jockeys and horsemen in the industry... and to bring that to light. But to open doors and open new pathways for students and kids to be able to get into the industry."For more information about this inspiring program, go to legacyequineacademy.com.