Ed Brown Society partners with Churchill Downs for scholarship
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new partnership in the horse racing industry is aimed at getting more minority participation. It involves Churchill Downs and the Lexington-based Ed Brown Society.
The Ed Brown Society recruits area minority college students and exposes them to high-level jobs within the horse industry.
“Churchill Downs is proud to have joined the Ed Brown Society at the Ed Brown partnership level. So today we are making a donation of $50,000 to join their efforts and their mission to achieve more diversity in the industry of horse racing,” said Tonya Abeln, with vice president of communications at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs said this pledge is in response to the protests of 2020. Track officials heard from minorities in the community who feel excluded from the economic benefits of thoroughbred racing, an industry that brings in billions.
“We got to make sure everybody is included,” Governor Andy Beshear said. “Every part of Kentucky, but also every neighborhood of our cities.”
Ed Brown, the program’s namesake, was a slave and went on to become a famous horseman. Program founders Ray Daniels and Greg Harbut want to keep the African American’s legacy alive in the sport.
“This is some of the progress we are going to move forward with in this multibillion-dollar industry that the governor spoke of, in trying to include some workforce opportunities,” said Ray Daniels with the Ed Brown Society.
“Just thinking about the future opportunities that will abound from this generous donation from Churchill Downs and what it will mean for students to be able to participate in the Ed Brown Society program,” said Greg Harbut with the Ed Brown Society.
The program will recruit area minority college students interested in learning the business side of thoroughbred horse racing. It benefits students like Charles Churchill, who is an equine science major at UK.
Churchill recently completed an internship at Gulf Stream Park in Florida. Track executives exposed him to the business side of wagering, veterinarians, hospitality, and daily racing operations.
“It’s extremely special to me that I’m a part of such a movement at such a great time in the industry,” Churchill said.
More opportunity for more diversity is on the horizon.
“They are willing to go and they are willing to go for whatever they want. All they need is that chance,” Churchill said.
The Ed Brown Society hopes to partner with other horse racing tracks in the near future.
Copyright 2022 WKYT. All rights reserved.