Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor


The Kentucky Horse Park describes itself as the world’s only equine theme park. However, the park is not entirely without historical precedent; instead, world’s fairs, amusement parks, and theme parks all form a century-long pedigree chart through which the park can trace its ancestors. The Kentucky Horse Park’s links to these predecessors deepen our understanding of how the park is a reflection of the world around it and the motivations for how and why it was built. From its inception in the late 1960s, to when it opened in 1978, through the present day, the Kentucky Horse Park was and still is an embodiment of white racialized ideals about the history of Kentucky and how its horse tourism industry communicates and reinforces those nostalgic fantasies. The joint monument to the Black jockey Isaac Murphy and champion racehorse Man o’ War, and the multiple disinterments and reburials Murphy underwent in the process, epitomizes the way in which race is at the center of the history of the park itself. While the park was certainly created with some genuine intentions of making horse tourism accessible to the masses of locals and tourists who desired it, the story of this theme park’s emergence cannot be disentangled from the history of race in twentieth-century Kentucky.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)