James E. “Ted” Bassett now has a museum exhibit

Keeneland's Ted Bassett with Queen Elizabeth

Keeneland’s Ted Bassett with Queen Elizabeth

Thoroughbred racing icon James E. “Ted” Bassett now has a museum exhibit about him to certify his importance in the horse racing world. Not that he wasn’t known before as the past president and chairman of Keeneland Association, past president of Breeders’ Cup Ltd., past president of Thoroughbred Racing Associations, member of The Jockey Club, former trustee of the National Museum of Racing, former trustee at University of Kentucky Equine Research Foundation and Transylvania University, and former director of the Kentucky State Police.

Ted Bassett is featured in a new exhibit that opened last week at the Kentucky Horse Park’s International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky.

The “Ted Bassett: A Kentucky Legend” exhibit is an addition to the “Calumet Farm: Five Decades of Champions” exhibition.

The museum features the Calumet Farm trophy collection from its original heyday as the owner of eight Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown champions in a gallery named for Bassett. Bassett helped lead the campaign to save the trophies — which had been displayed at the park since 1982 — from dispersal after the farm’s woes of the 1990s.

The permanent Bassett exhibit features memorabilia and awards from Bassett’s personal collection, including his 1996 Eclipse Award of Merit and Breeders’ Cup Recognition Trophy. It also features a video narrated mainly by Bassett.

“Since 1981, when Ted Bassett helped the park secure the loan of the Calumet trophies and paintings, he has been a steadfast supporter and friend of the Kentucky Horse Park,” museum director Bill Cooke said in the announcement. “I sincerely believe that there was not another man in America who could have successfully led the fight to raise the funds to later keep the Calumet collection at the International Museum of the Horse. Having admired and worked with him for the past three decades, I can’t tell you how pleased and proud I am to have this tribute to a truly great man in our museum.”

Besides being the first board chairman for the park, Bassett is credited with helping bring champion Thoroughbred geldings Forego and John Henry to its Hall of Champions.

Ted Bassett, now 92, describes his life as a “fascinating blur.” But that blur and all its fascinating components are brought into sharp focus in his autobiography, Keeneland’s Ted Bassett: My Life, published by the University Press of Kentucky. Written by Bassett and two-time Eclipse Award winning journalist Bill Mooney, this book chronicles Bassett’s extraordinary life – A great read!