Battle in Saddle at Kentucky Horse Park puts the fun in fundraising

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJuly 14, 2013 

Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Famer Chris McCarron took a victory lap around the covered arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Sunday night.

The retired jockey and his team had just won the inaugural Battle in the Saddle, in which amateur riders and a celebrity guest rider competed against other teams to pen a group of cattle in the fastest time.

McCarron and his team — his daughter, Stevie, and Stuart Turlington— we're able to pen three cows in 1 minute and 39 seconds.

McCarron said it was about the 15th time he had participated in a penning competition.

"There's not a more fun way to raise money," he said.

The event raised an estimated $20,000 to $25,000 for the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, said Laura Klumb, executive director of the foundation.

Horse Park officials were pleased with the estimated crowd if 1,200 to 1,500.

"I think this is the start of a new tradition in the Bluegrass," said John Nicholson, executive director of the park.

Jorge Vasquez, manager of the Lexington Polo Club, and his team, veterinarians Hoyt Cheramie and Meg Green, placed second in the competition with a time of 1:56.

"It's a rush!" Vasquez said of the effort to sort cows from a herd and then coax them into a pen. He said it was just as athletic as polo.

Coming in third was accomplished equestrian rider Buck Davidson and his team, veterinarians Barry David and Sam Schalnus. Their time was an even 2 minutes.

Among the other celebrities in the event were jockeys Calvin Borel, Pat Day and Patti Cooksey; Cincinnati Bengals football player Kevin Huber; and University of Kentucky women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @heraldleader.

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