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Last week, Brook Smith, long-time Backside Learning Center (BLC) supporter, local philanthropist, and part-owner of Sierra Leone (one of the Derby 150 favorites), challenged horse owners to enroll their horses to the BLC’s “Purses for a Purpose” initiative. The challenge inspired Trainer Cherie DeVaux and Bloodstock Agent David Ingordo to also take part. 

“I have a challenge,” said Smith. “If we can get 150 owners, and 150 horses for that matter, and they pledge to donate 1% of purse winnings with these 150 horses, that moves a bigger needle than people realize. And it means a lot, the thought that the owners think about the backside, and those who support it.” 

DeVaux and Ingordo have personally agreed to pledge up to $10,000 of purse winnings of all seven of their horses running in races between opening day (April 27th) and Derby (May 4th.) Out of these seven, three of them are running in graded stakes this weekend: Vahva (Gr.1 Derby City Distaff Stakes), Pipeline (Gr.2 Alysheba Stakes) and Medalla Match (Gr.3 Unbridled Sidney Stakes.) 

“We encourage other owners, trainers, jockeys and bloodstock agents to also find a way to contribute to the Backside Learning Center and the great work it does for our racetrack families,” said Ingordo.

Sierra Leone stands to help the backstretch community win big and also takes part in the Backside Learning Center’s (BLC) initiative “Purses for a Purpose.” In addition to the standard percentage of purse earnings Smith automatically donates via “Purses for a Purpose”, should Sierra Leone win the Kentucky Derby, he promised an additional $100,000 to the BLC. This extraordinary contribution will directly benefit BLC programming, which provides vital resources and support to the racetrack workers and their families.

The BLC extends its heartfelt appreciation to DeVaux, Ingordo, Brook Smith, and all supporters of Purses for a Purpose this Derby season. This initiative exemplifies the power of collective action and philanthropy in creating a brighter future for the backside community.

For more information on Purses for a Purpose, click here.

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