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As a part of the Centennial Festival of Riverboats the Kentucky Derby Museum will present local actor Kyle Ware performing a one-man interpretive monologue, recreating the unique personality of the late Matt Winn. Matt Winn was an important figure in Louisville’s horse racing history during 1914 when the Belle of Louisville was being launched. Winn was Vice President and General Manager of Churchill Downs during this period and went on to become President of the track in 1938. He used his understanding of marketing to weave the aura of romance into what the Kentucky Derby was and is today. Winn had a unique relationship with the press in Louisville and throughout the country at the time and actor Kyle Ware will portray stories inspired from events detailed in Winn’s autobiography Down the Stretch.
Matt Winn Bio:
Matt J. Winn was born on June 30, 1861 in Louisville. He attended the inaugural running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875 and never missed a running of the Derby during his lifetime. A notable businessman, he was approached in 1902 by his friend and Racing Secretary Charles Price about purchasing financially-troubled Churchill Downs. Although he was reluctant to buy the track he did not want to see it close, so he formed a syndicate that included Louisville Mayor Charles Grainger and hotel magnate Louis Seelbach to purchase the track. Their first year operating the track was the first year Churchill Downs pulled a profit. Under Winn’s management the Kentucky Derby became the internationally noted cultural event that it is today. The singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”, the garland of roses, the Kentucky Derby Gold Cup and the mint julep souvenir glass are only some of the traditions started during his tenure. The purse and attendance for the Derby grew astronomically under his guidance, and he spent many an offseason hosting special events at the track to keep it in the news. Winn served as president of Churchill Downs from 1938 until his death in 1949.
Performances will run during the Centennial Festival of Riverboats October 14 – 19 as the Derby Museum’s contribution to the festival.
There will be two performances in the museum October 14-18 at 10:30am & 2:30pm daily and one performance Sunday, October 19 at 2:30pm.
Performances will be held in the museum’s Great Hall each day during the Riverboat Festival.
Kyle Ware is a Louisville-based actor, artist, educator and writer. He most recently appeared in Kentucky Shakespeare’s 2014 summer season and now serves as the Director of Education for the company. He was a Co-Producing Founding Artistic Director of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble and currently Co-Artistic of Think Tank Theatre, a collaborative ensemble debuting in November.
Contact: Greg Keightley
Director of Marketing
Kentucky Derby Museum