Drivers around Lexington's Versailles Road viaduct will soon become familiar with the likeness of Woody, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding with a varied history.
The Kentucky-bred horse once raced under the name Sylvan Approval, winning three races in 11 starts and earning $19,095. Woody also spent 10 years as an eventing horse under the name "Brushfire," according to officials familiar with the horse.
But it is Woody's service to the community — which includes helping Fayette County students learn academics and horsemanship in a Central Kentucky Riding for Hope program — that puts him among four horses whose likenesses appear on new banners at the viaduct near downtown Lexington.
Officials of Lexington's Corridors Commission and the Friends of Versailles Road group recently unveiled the banners. They feature three horses based at the Kentucky Horse Park that serve in the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope organization and one in the Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police.
"The most important aspect of these banners is to establish the Versailles Road corridor as 'the horseman's corridor,'" Paula Singer, president of the Friends of Versailles Road, said in an interview.
The Versailles Road area includes horse farms, and Keeneland and Red Mile racetracks. Oliver Lewis Way, which was named after a black jockey who won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 on Aristides, connects Versailles Road with Newtown Pike, which leads to the Kentucky Horse Park.
The banners will be displayed until December.
The Corridors Commission deals with aesthetic qualities, landscaping, signs and other elements of major roads in Lexington. In 2012, the commission voted to fund the project to recognize horses in the amount of $3,000. But only $1,500 has been used for the banners honoring service horses, Singer said, so it's possible that there may be funding for a future banner project that is equine-themed.
Pat Kline, executive director of Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, said the horses on the banners "are representative of the variety that is in our therapeutic riding herd."
Other horses featured on the banners are:
■ Hoss, a 14-year-old Mustang/draft gelding who participates in horse summer camps, therapeutic riding for military service members and learning for students in STABLES, an academic and horsemanship program at Central Kentucky Riding for Hope for students in Fayette County Schools.
■ John R., a 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding who has been involved in therapeutic riding and the STABLES program. Racing under the name Impressive John R., the Kentucky-bred horse won two races in 26 starts and earned $34,077. He was retired from racing to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and joined Central Kentucky Riding for Hope in September 2011.
■ Dinero, a 6-year-old Percheron-Thoroughbred gelding, works with the Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police. Dinero goes on daily patrols with trooper Roy Foster. He was donated to the Horse Park by Asbury University in 2011.
Banners were also placed on the Versailles Road viaduct in 2010 for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. In 2011, Keeneland placed banners along the viaduct to recognize its 75th anniversary.
Valarie Honeycutt Spears:(859) 231-3409. Twitter:@vhspears