LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, Aug. 24, 2020 – The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby will be like none other. There will be no fans in the stands at Churchill Downs, and for the first time in 13 years, African Americans will have ownership in a derby qualifying racehorse.
Ray Daniels, a Lexington businessman and Greg Harbut, a Lexington Bloodstock Agent are two of three owners of the Kentucky thoroughbred, Necker Island. The two are among a tiny group of Black men to ever own a Derby qualifying racehorse. “My family and I are excited and truly blessed to be part of such a momentous event,” Daniels said.
Especially noteworthy of this historic accomplishment is Harbut’s lineage. He is the grandson of Tom Harbut, a groom and subsequently the general manager for Harry F. Guggenheim’s breeding stallion operations in the 1960s. Tom Harbut owned a racehorse, Touch Bar that ran in the 1962 Kentucky Derby. He did not attend to watch his horse because Black’s were not allowed to sit in the grandstands. Greg is the great-grandson of Will Harbut, the legendary groom for Man o’ War from 1930-1946. Many industry experts consider Man o’ War to be the greatest racehorse of all time. “My family has been on this journey for nearly 100 years. Horseracing is in our blood and I am humbled and honored to continue the legacy of my grandfather and great-grandfather,” Harbut said.
Many organizations are calling for a boycott of the Derby as a pathway to justice for the unarmed killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of the Louisville Police Department. “There is a powerful social movement sweeping the country that cannot be ignored,” said Daniels. “Black lives matter, and I wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with the family of Breonna Taylor in the call for justice.”
Necker Island is a colt by Hard Spun who finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and amassed nearly $3 million in career earnings. Necker Island will be ridden by Miguel Mena on Sept. 5th.
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