The Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden will be the first park in the United States to honor the earliest African American professional athletes – the Thoroughbred jockey.  Fittingly, the Garden is located on land once owned by Isaac, in the predominately African American East End of Lexington.

Who is Isaac Murphy?

Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to ride consecutive Kentucky Derby winners, as well as the first three-time Derby champ – a record he held for 54 years.  He still holds the record (44%) for the highest percentage of racing wins ever. His struggles and ultimate triumph as one of the very first African Americans in professional sports are resonating across the Bluegrass, and with your support, will be known across the country. Lexington is known as the “Horse Capital of the World” and therefore it is appropriate that we are building the first park to honor the people who ride those horses, and especially one who is known as one of the greatest.

How is Isaac making an impact today?

Isaac changed the sport of Thoroughbred racing forever, and more than that, 135 years later, he is connecting the city of Lexington in the 21st Century.  With the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games having been held in Lexington in 2010, our city worked to leave a lasting legacy of improvement after the Games were over.  The Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden is a part of one of those legacies.  The other is the Legacy Trail, a nine-mile walking and biking path leading from the Garden to the Kentucky Horse Park.  Isaac’s life will be a connecting theme on this Trail, from his homeplace in the East End, to his final resting place at the Horse Park, next to the greatest horse of them all – Man o’ War.  Isaac is the only jockey with the honor of being buried at the Kentucky Horse Park.

What will the Art Garden be like?

Currently under construction, the Garden will be a place of beauty through its design and art, and also be known as a teaching place, about nature, local heritage, and the sport of racing.  While Isaac is the primary character, the park will also commemorate the accomplishments and contributions of other African-Americans throughout history- other jockeys, tacks, grooms, trainers, etc.   There will be places for public performances, for kids to play, and for simply enjoying art and the city.

For more details about the plans for the Garden, please visit

How can I get involved?

The Garden’s supporters have raised all of the funding needed to complete the park.  A multi-pronged fundraising effort is underway to raise the needed funds to install artwork in the park – approximately $100,000.  We need your help!  Please consider making a donation to the Garden, and please help us spread the word about this great opportunity to leave a legacy in our community.






499 East High Street,  Suite 112,  Lexington, KY 40507

Email Us:  /  Call Us: 859.225.3343

Copyright 2015. Blue Grass Community Foundation     Site Map  Privacy Policy