LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Prep work is well underway for Kentucky Derby 150, and one popular event is back after a nine-year hiatus. 

What You Need To Know

  • More than 75 full-sized horses will be painted for 2024 Gallopalooza. 

  • Gallopalooza helps raise money for the Brightside Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to making Louisville a clean and beautiful city

  • Louisville native Richard Sullivan created the poster for the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival and is transferring the design onto a horse

  • The Kentucky Derby Festival will host a Gallopalooza preview event free with a 2024 Pegasus Pin 

Kentucky artists are unearthing their memories of horse racing down in Louisville’s Mega Cavern.

“I discovered art when I was waiting for my parents while they were walking horses and I was seven,” artist Clay Mata said. 

“When Derby comes, everybody comes in,” Darryl Tucker said as he finger-painted his horse. 

“I remember seeing it in the yard and thinking like, ‘How do people get involved?” Enrique Santiago recounted. 

As a professional equestrian artist, Louisville native Richard Sullivan has found a common ground between him and his subjects. 

“I think there is this competitive spirit they have competing against other horses, racing with each other," Sullivan said. "They love competing against each other."   

Competitiveness is a trait the former professional baseball player has honed on the mound. 

After trading his baseball glove for a paintbrush, he moved back to his hometown to further pursue visual arts. Earlier this month, he unveiled the poster he created for the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival.

The official 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival poster was designed by Louisville artist and former baseball player Richard Sullivan. (Kentucky Derby Festival)

“What I was thinking about when I was painting was renewal, springtime, hope and just expansion," Sullivan said. 

Many will wear and see his work, as the design will be featured on 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival merchandise.

But after the celebrations conclude and a winner is crowned, the Ballard High School graduate’s art will still be on display as he transfers the design of the poster onto a horse. 

“It’s very special to be included in part of the festivities around Derby time," Sullivan said. "It’s such a special time of year for Kentucky and the people from Louisville.”

Sullivan’s horse will join more than 70 other painted full-sized horse statues for Brightside’s Foundation 2024 Gallopalooza. The nonprofit works to make Louisville a beautiful and clean city. 

Since 2004, Gallopalooza horses have graced the streets around Louisville. This 2015 honors Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah. (Brightside Foundation)

Since starting in 2004, Gallopalooza has created more than 500 fiberglass horses to commemorate the state’s most prestigious horse race. 

“Having this public art project and being able to lift up some of the other nonprofits in the community is what's really important to this because when we place the statues in the community, the businesses and areas in town where they're placed, people will come to those,” said Michelle Black White, Brightside Foundation executive director. 

Sullivan said his best work comes when he is channeling the passion he fostered for art. 

“I try not to think of anything; I just try to just let my brush kind of do whatever it wants," he said. "That’s sometimes, 'Wow, that's awesome,' and then sometimes you’re like, ‘Well, I should probably do that again.'" 

The Kentucky Derby Festival will host a Gallopalooza preview event free with a 2024 Pegasus Pin. Sponsorships for Gallopalooza statues are still available