1st Annual Kentucky Derby Gala

May 13, 2019

On Saturday May 4, 2019 we held our first annual Kentucky Derby Gala at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY.  About 70% of the horses that come to Sunshine Horses are from the racing industry.  Regardless of our personal opinions about horse racing, organizations like ours must exist to give horses a safe place to land when their racing days are over. 


The Kentucky Derby kicks off the Triple Crown Series.  There is always a lot of buzz around this event from both horse enthusiasts and the general public.  Volunteer Dianne Sestak thought a watch party would be a great fundraiser for our organization.  This event raised $29,000 for Sunshine Horses.  This is the most successful fundraiser that we have had to date. 



This fundraiser would not have been possible without Dianne and her team.  Organizing this fundraiser has been a full time job for Dianne for over a year.  We cannot begin to thank her enough for all her hard work and the amazing results.  


Dianne Sestak, Maddie Sestak and Tess Kenney are all smiles as they celebrate a successful event.  













We would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped with the event.  They did everything from check in attendees to running the different raffles and activities. 

Thank you for donating your time and skills to help this event run smoothly.  






The star of our event was Sunshine Ambassador Hucklebuck.  He enjoyed grazing on the landscaping outside of the casino before joining us inside on the red carpet.  It was great to watch casino guests do a double take as they passed by.  A special thank you to horse handlers Regina, Cathy and Allison and to Scott Case of CNY Carriage Company for transport and support.  You guys kept Huck happy and safe as he posed for pictures with over 100 guests and volunteers.  


Assemblyman Al Stirpe has visited Sunshine Horses several times over the years.  He attended the event as our special guest and to present Sunshine with a grant for $125,000.  With the support of Assemblyman Stirpe, Sunshine applied for this grant that is available for non-profit organizations in New York State.  Sunshine President Kate Starr accepted the check on behalf of Sunshine.  Sunshine Ambassador Huck welcomed Assemblyman Stirpe and his wife Chele and gave them thanks from our herd. 


Congressman John Katko was unable to attend the event but he did send a taped message that was played for the attendees.  Congressman Katko co-sponsors the SAFE Act which aims to end horse slaughter in the US.  Sunshine has rescued and re-homed dozens of horses from kill pens that will be banned if this measure passes.  We thank the congressman for his support of our mission.  


We would also like to thank our sponsors: Mirob Stables, WET Electric, VP Supply Corp, Pala Wood Services Co Inc, Industrial Fabrication Corporation, Hadwen and Corinne Fuller and Vic Convertino.  Thank you to photographers Wyatt Kyle and Allison Fluent.  To Patrick Bradford-Kenney for designing our program.  To Kelly Holt for finance and fundraising support.  To DJ Ryan Dixon for managing the music, announcements and the live feed of the race.  


Thank you to our beverage tasting participants: 1911 Established, Waterman's 606, Lock 1, St. Lawrence Distillery and Ashley Lynn Winery.  Thank you to 93Q, Big Frog 104, CNY Central and News Channel 9 for promoting our event.  Thank you to Corso's Cookies, Gateway Liquor and Liquor Wine and Moonshine for providing drinks and goodies.  


Thank you to all the Sunshine supporters who donated items for our raffle and silent auction and to everyone who attended the event .  We are overwhelmed by the amazing support and generosity that you have shown.  When we moved to our new home last May we knew were going to have to hold larger events to purchase and maintain the property.  The funds raised at this event will go directly to our Capital Campaign and will be applied to the mortgage for our property.  


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