With more than 200 people in attendance, this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands runner-up Eight Belles was memorialized in a public ceremony in the garden of the Kentucky Derby Museum Sept. 7.


At the conclusion of the emotional ceremony, which included heartfelt remarks by Eight Belles’ trainer Larry Jones and owner Rick Porter, a plaque was unveiled honoring the fallen filly. The plaque is mounted under a magnolia tree in the garden, where her remains have been interred.


Among those in attendance were Porter’s wife, Betsy, and representatives of Serengeti Stables and Three Chimneys Farm, who were the breeders of Eight Belles. In opening remarks made by Kentucky Derby Museum executive director Lynn Ashton, it was announced that people from as far away as Colorado, New York, and Florida had come to pay their respects to the daughter of Unbridled’s Song, who broke down while galloping out after the Kentucky Derby and was euthanized on the Churchill Downs racetrack minutes later.


Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton also addressed the public, announcing that a stakes race would be named in honor of Eight Belles on the undercard of the 2009 Kentucky Derby.


The most poignant moments of the ceremony came from Jones, who received a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd. Fighting back tears throughout his remarks, Jones talked about the remarkable courage and personality of Eight Belles, his devastation in the moments after he learned of her death and the aftermath of May 3.