Devaux, Ingordo Follow Smith’s Lead

May 3, 2024

Cherie Devaux at Keeneland last fall after Vahva won the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run. (Keeneland photo)

To Include Weekend Stakes Contenders In BLC’s Purses For A Purpose Initiative

Backside Learning Center Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Last week, Brook Smith, long-time Backside Learning Center (BLC) supporter, local philanthropist and part-owner of Sierra Leone (one of the Kentucky Derby 150 favorites), challenged horse owners to enroll their horses to the BLC’s “Purses for a Purpose” initiative. The challenge inspired trainer Cherie DeVaux and bloodstock agent David Ingordo to also take part.

“I have a challenge,” Smith said. “If we can get 150 owners, and 150 horses for that matter, and they pledge to donate 1 percent of purse winnings with these 150 horses, that moves a bigger needle than people realize. And it means a lot, the thought that the owners think about the backside, and those who support it.”

DeVaux and Ingordo have personally agreed to pledge up to $10,000 of purse winnings of all seven of their horses running in races between opening day (April 27) and the May 4 Derby. Out of these seven, three are running in graded stakes this weekend: Vahva (Gr.1 Derby City Distaff Stakes), Pipeline (Gr.2 Alysheba Stakes) and Medalla Match (Gr.3 Unbridled Sidney Stakes.)

“We encourage other owners, trainers, jockeys and bloodstock agents to also find a way to contribute to the Backside Learning Center and the great work it does for our racetrack families,” said Ingordo.

Sierra Leone stands to help the backstretch community win big and also takes part in the Backside Learning Center’s (BLC) initiative “Purses for a Purpose.” In addition to the standard percentage of purse earnings that Smith automatically donates via “Purses for a Purpose”, should Sierra Leone win the Kentucky Derby, he promised an additional $100,000 to the BLC. This extraordinary contribution will directly benefit BLC programming, which provides vital resources and support to the racetrack workers and their families.

The BLC extends its heartfelt appreciation to DeVaux, Ingordo, Brook Smith and all supporters of Purses for a Purpose this Derby season. This initiative exemplifies the power of collective action and philanthropy in creating a brighter future for the backside community. 

About the BLC:  The Backside Learning Center (BLC) is an independent non-profit organization providing support and resources in a safe, welcoming environment for the diverse community of racetrack workers and their families. With programs centered around educational support for both adults and youth, health and wellness, human services and more, we are committed to serving as a community center and a “home away from home” for the backside community. 

For more information about the BLC visit

About Purses for a Purpose:  Purses for a Purpose is an initiative providing horse owners with a way to give back to those who are the backbone of the horseracing industry. This support is a direct investment in an industry that is central to the identity, culture and economy of our state. We all benefit from a workforce that is healthy, educated, and feels valued for the important role they play. 

The BLC is honored to work with the 1,000+ strong, resilient backside workers who are behind the scenes grooming, hot-walking, exercise riding, caring for, feeding, and training the horses at Churchill Downs and Trackside Training Center on and off season. By donating a customizable portion of a horse’s winnings, funds go straight to programming at the Backside Learning Center, empowering the lives of backside workers and their families by offering educational opportunities, human services, community resources and more. 

For more information about Purses for a Purpose, visit

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