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Maker’s Mark reaches milestone with Grade 1 Turf Race

April 7, 2021


Friday marks the 25th running of the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) under the sponsorship of the world-famous bourbon distillery on Star Hill Farm in Loretto, Kentucky. 

Maker’s Mark and Keeneland became partners long before that.

In 1958, Keeneland’s Fall Meet marked the first time patrons were able to buy Maker’s Mark bourbon when Turf Catering, Keeneland’s caterer at the time, purchased the first case of Maker’s Mark under its Kentucky liquor license.

Beginning in 1997, Maker’s Mark and Keeneland teamed up to produce a highly collectible commemorative bottle that has raised more than $8 million to support a variety of causes affiliated with the University of Kentucky and Lexington-area organizations. Each bottle features a theme and is signed by officials with Maker’s Mark and Keeneland as well as by special guests and honorees.

The 2021 bottle commemorates the 25th Maker’s Mark Mile with three versions, featuring labels with the art of Sandra Oppegard, Andre Pater and Tyler Robertson. Proceeds will benefit LexArts, greater Lexington’s premier cultural development, advocacy, and fundraising organization, and will support the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden in downtown Lexington. 

Located where Murphy’s home stood on East Third Street in the historic East End neighborhood, the Art Garden celebrates the legendary African American jockey of the 19th century. It is the first park in the U.S. created to honor the earliest African American professional athletes in this country: Thoroughbred jockeys.

The art garden is the Spring Meet’s featured charity. Keeneland encourages fans to contribute to this cause by donating to bgcf.givingfuel.com/immag.

Signatures on the labels of this year’s bottle are Maker’s Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels, Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin and three Racing Hall of Fame jockeys who are among the most successful riders in the history of the Maker’s Mark Mile: Javier Castellano (who has four wins in the race), Edgar Prado (three wins) and John Velazquez (two wins).

“We’ll never forget that Keeneland was the first place ever to serve Maker’s Mark” said Samuels, who represents the third generation of his family to run Maker’s Mark. “What deepens that special relationship is the fact that, together, we’ve been able to serve a higher purpose by raising a lot of money over the years for some truly worthy organizations.”