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Brittani Koons Named First Recipient of the Isaac Murphy Scholarship

April 30, 2012

Lexington, Ky — The Race for Education is pleased to announce Ms. Brittani Koons of Gahanna, Ohio, as the first recipient of the Isaac Murphy Scholarship. This college scholarship is sponsored jointly by Team Valor International Racing and the stables owners, Barry and Kathleen Irwin and is awarded to an African American student that has a passion to work in the equine industry upon graduation. Criteria for this scholarship include financial need, communication skills, leadership, and commitment to the agriculture industry. This scholarship will be awarded to one student annually. The amount will be based on the recipient’s level of financial need.

Two percent of the earnings of all Team Valor’s horses, including 2011 Kentucky Derby Winner Animal Kingdom and 2012 entry Went the Day Well will provide funding for these scholarships.

Brittani Koons, a freshman at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, will receive up to $18,000. She is majoring in equine pre-veterinary studies and pursuing a minor in Equine Business Management. She has an interest in attending veterinary school upon graduation with future goals of becoming a racetrack practitioner and a secondary career as a Thoroughbred farm owner with a breeding operation. Koons is currently working at a small animal hospital as well as volunteering with a nearby boarding facility to gain the hands-on horse experience needed for veterinary school.

"African Americans had an important and positive impact on horse racing in an earlier era of racing in the United States," Irwin said. "I want to do something to honor that heritage and encourage today's black youth to consider a career in our great sport." 

The award memorializes Isaac Burns Murphy (April 16, 1861 - February 12, 1896), an African-American Hall of Fame jockey, who is considered one of the greatest riders in American Thoroughbred horse racing history. Murphy won three Kentucky Derbies. Murphy rode in a total of eleven Kentucky Derbies, winning three times: on Buchanan in 1884, Riley in 1890, and Kingman in 1891. Kingman was owned and trained by Dudley Allen, and is the only horse owned by an African-American to win the Derby. Murphy is the only jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap in the same year (1884). At its creation in 1955, Isaac Burns Murphy was the first jockey to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.[1]

The Race for Education provides educational programs and college scholarships to young people in the equine and agriculture industries with significant financial need. The majority of their students come from high need, low income backgrounds. The Race for Education not only offers financial support for these students, but also mentoring, tutoring, and partnership support to ensure students are receiving the support and educational skills they need to be successful. The Starting Gate, a youth outreach program was also established by The Race for Education in 2009 in New York and has expanded to include two Central Kentucky locations in 2011.

[1] Isaac Murphy at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Retrieved 2012-04-18, http://www.racingmuseum.org/hall-of-fame/horse-jockeys-view.asp?varID=47

Mandy Roberts
The Race for Education
Communications Coordinator
1818 Versailles Road
Lexington, KY 40504
(859) 252-8648


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