Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky was founded in 1952 and started distilling operations in 1953. Four years later in October of 1958 Bill Samuels, Jr. sold the first case of Maker’s Mark Bourbon to Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky. The two long term partners have come together again to create a custom bottle of Maker’s 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.
“The people in the horse industry of Central Kentucky have played a big role in the history of Maker’s Mark,” says 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.”
2020 Commemorative Bottle Includes Original Artwork, Jockey Signatures & Custom Wax
The bottle’s design features black wax on the top and neck, a green wax hand embossed Keeneland seal on the front and a gold label featuring an original illustration of a jockey in white and red silks aboard a Thoroughbred racehorse.
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.
“I’ve been involved with several Keeneland and Maker’s Mark bottles that raise funds for worthy causes,” says 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.”
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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.
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.”
Keeneland Racetrack was founded in 1936 and is a National Historic Landmark is located in the Horse Capital of the World. The racetrack is internationally renowned and the home to Thoroughbred industry’s leading auction house. The track features beautifully landscaped grounds that are open to the public every day.
The commemorative Maker’s Mark Keeneland Racetrack bottle went on sale earlier this month and sold out in the first day.