Medina Spirit Sculpture Evolution

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY., initiated construction on a distinct equine sculpture by renowned artist Kiptoo Tarus.

The sculpture, sponsored by the Baffert family, will be crafted from the dying stump of the nearly 100-year Sycamore tree on the farm’s property, and will pay tribute to graded stakes winner Medina Spirt, whose remains are buried at Old Friends.

When it was discovered that the aged Sycamore was dying despite numerous efforts to save it, the idea for a sculpture came into place.

The largest deciduous tree in the eastern United States, Sycamore trees can grow 75 to 100 feet tall with a similar spread, and even taller under ideal conditions. The trunk may be as much as 10 feet in diameter.

“I hope to capture the essence of a great racehorse here in the heart of Thoroughbred country,” said the artist.

“We are so excited to be able to showcase the magnificent work of Kiptoo and to honor a great Thoroughbred champion,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Kiptoo Tarus earned a B.A at The University of Nairobi for Design, majoring in illustration. In 2011 he established the Graphic Design Company, King Concepts before being accepted to the University of Kentucky where he studied sculpture. Tarus soon developed an interest in equine art and his large-scale wood sculptures – often carved with a chainsaw –juxtapose classical equine art with those tribal and pastoral influences of his native Kenya.

Some of the artist’s most significant work in the Lexington, KY area include the horse sculpture seen on the Henry Clay Estate, Sculpture 2020 Blues on Southland Drive, The Melting Pot Sculpture in Woodland Park, and the memorial for Breonna Taylor at Lexington’s Carnegie Center for Literacy. He is currently showing a horse called “Golden Jockey” in the LexArt’s public-art event, Horse Mania.

Old Friends is a Thoroughbred Retirement facility dedicated to the dignified retirement of horses whose racing and breeding careers came to an end. It is home to such racing stars as Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner Silver Charm, three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On, and Belmont Stakes winners Birdstone, Sarava, and Touch Gold.

Many thanks to Mary Greene for creating this video!

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