Kentucky Derby fans who visited Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum on the day after the 135th “Run for the Roses” got a surprise gift from the team behind Mine That Bird, the 50-1 longshot that won America’s greatest race on Saturday.
Trainer Chip Woolley Jr. suggested Sunday morning that the mantle of roses worn by Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle after his victory be placed on the new sculpture of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro located at Churchill Downs’ Gate 1 entrance. After consulting with co-owners Mark Allen with Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach of Bueno Suerte Equine, the trio behind Saturday’s surprise Derby winner decided to give the nearly 400 “Freedom Roses” that make up the garland to Derby fans who were visiting the Barbaro Memorial and the Kentucky Derby Museum on the day after the race.
The garland had been stored in refrigeration overnight in the museum, and at noon (EDT) was briefly placed over the rail of the Barbaro sculpture in tribute to the ill-fated 2006 winner of the Kentucky Derby. The garland was then removed and Woolley and Allen began handing out the roses, one-by-one, to fans who happened by the larger-than-life sculpture as they visited the museum and Churchill Downs.
“This is a tribute to a great horse,” Woolley said. “I wanted everyone to have a little piece of the Derby. We wanted to give something back to the game. We just want to show how important horses really are. That’s what this is all about. We want people to know just how important these horses really are to us. They’re not just animals, they’re a part of us.”
A line of delighted fans formed in front of the Barbaro sculpture as they awaited their opportunity for a Derby rose won by Mine That Bird, and Woolley and Allen also posed for photos and signed autographs until the each rose had been distributed. The two men greeted fans in front of the Barbaro Memorial for more than an hour and a half until each rose from the garland had been handed out.