It’s that time of year again when thoroughbred horses and Kentucky bourbon makers jockey for the top spot as the 146th Running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs draws near. The folks at Woodford Reserve Distillery are no stranger to this race. They’ve been a part of the world’s “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” for the last 21 years with their annual limited-edition Kentucky Derby bottle.
Since 1999 the limited-edition Woodford Reserve bottle is a must have for bourbon and Derby fans alike. It’s the same amber spirit that’s available year round but it takes on a special meaning when the first Saturday in May rolls around and Churchill Downs is filled with the sound of the buglers call to the post. That call is soon followed by the sound of pounding hooves and the roar of the crowd as the thoroughbreds charge down the last furlong as they near the finish line.
The 2020 Bottle Celebrates the Human Athlete and the Equine Athlete
Watch the video to hear from artist Richard Sullivan and his inspiration for the 21st Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle.
“There is a poetic beauty in this year’s bottle because Richard Sullivan, the human athlete, is celebrating the equine athlete,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris.
Over the years the Kentucky Derby artwork has featured world renowned artists that have a passion for painting and horses. For more than two decades the bottles have run the gambit from simple two color drawings to the more elaborate paintings from great artists like Leroy Neiman in 2008. The 2020 bottle for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby features a Louisville, Kentucky artist with a unique passion for sports and art. This year’s artist is Richard Sullivan, a former Atlanta Braves professional baseball player and graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The southpaw who was once known for his fast ball has slowed things down a bit as he patiently applies watercolors to canvas.
“My goal was to create a beautiful image of the Kentucky Derby that embodies the spirit of competition, dedication, and freedom that is required to be your best,” said artist Richard Sullivan. “I wanted to capture this intense moment of competition that is shared between the human and equine athlete. A moment when everything is on the line, time stops, awareness is heightened, mind and body are one, and anything is possible.”
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Sullivan said he enjoys the parallels between sports and creativity, connecting two seemingly divided worlds that, in reality, require the same sense of dedication, practice, and expertise. His work is featured across the United States, including at The Atlanta Braves Truist Park, Mercedes Benz Stadium and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He also recently collaborated with Topps trading cards to create a series of twenty paintings of rising MLB stars for the Momentum Rising set.
The Kentucky Derby bottle has been an annual collector’s item anticipated by bourbon and racing fans since 1999. The 2020 Woodford Reserve Limited-Edition Kentucky Derby Bourbon is on sale now across the United States and the globe with a suggested retail price of $49.99 for a one-liter bottle.
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