Keeneland and Maker’s Mark have a rich history of working hand-in-hand to benefit the community and the horse industry. This year is no exception as the two iconic Kentucky brands today announced the 2020 Maker’s Mark commemorative bottle, with all proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), an independent charitable organization that provides financial assistance to jockeys who have sustained debilitating on-track injuries.
Each Maker’s Mark bottle has been signed in advance by the five leading active stakes-winning riders at Keeneland: Julien Leparoux, Robby Albarado, John Velazquez, Javier Castellano, and Mike Smith; in addition to Maker’s Mark managing director Rob Samuels and Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.
The bottle’s design features black wax on the top and neck, a green wax Keeneland seal on the front and a gold label featuring an illustration of a jockey in white and red silks aboard a Thoroughbred racehorse. The illustration is the work of Louisville artist Jeaneen Barnhart, renowned for a large portfolio of equine art that includes several posters for the Kentucky Derby Festival which she designed with her twin sister, Doreen.
Certain to become a collector’s item, the bottle goes on sale July 3 in limited quantities around Kentucky.
“Jockeys are truly some of the best athletes in the world and put their lives on the line every time they mount a horse,” PDJF President Nancy LaSala said. “Because of this, we’re so thrilled that two of Kentucky’s great institutions —Keeneland and Maker’s Mark — have come together in such a creative way to help disabled jockeys who can ride no more.”
“I’ve been involved with several Keeneland and Maker’s Mark bottles that raise funds for worthy causes,” said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. “But this one really is where my heart is. Autographing a bottle is such a simple thing to do, and it’s great knowing that I’m playing a small role in helping other riders whose careers were cut short.”
“The people in the horse industry of Central Kentucky have played a big role in the history of Maker’s Mark,” said Rob Samuels, who is an eighth-generation whisky maker. “When my grandfather started Maker’s back in the 1950s, the horsemen supported him and helped spread the word that his bourbon was worth sharing. So, we’re honored to share something back in a meaningful way.”
Keeneland and Maker’s Mark formed a partnership in 1997 to create commemorative bottles each year for charitable organizations. Proceeds from the sales of previous commemorative bottles have raised millions to benefit everything from academic tutoring for student athletes to arts programs across the state to nonprofit organizations in the Thoroughbred industry.
“We are always gratified by the enthusiastic public response to the Maker’s Mark commemorative bottle, and we are so pleased sales this year will benefit the critical work of the PDJF,” Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We thank our longstanding partner, Maker’s Mark, and Julien, Robby, John, Javier and Mike for their strong support.”