10/06/2011 2:04PM

Keeneland voices behind the scenes: Bucky Sallee


Bucky Sallee

Track bugler
Age: 82
Years at Keeneland: 49

Have you ever added up how many times you’ve played the call to the post?
I haven’t ever tried. But I know we had a little party for my 10,000th call, and that had to be about 8 or 9 years ago.

What’s it like to play for the Queen of England?
Aw, I’ve done a lot of things, so many things that are special. When the queen came to Keeneland, I was there that day, and I was at the [Kentucky] Horse Park to blow my horn when the queen’s daughter was out there. There’s so many I can’t keep count. I’ve played for dukes and duchesses. Ronald Reagan, he was there one day, I blew my horn for him. I could go on and on. Mickey Rooney, he was out there one day, and we just stood by the clerk of scales talking. Can you believe that?

Do you find time to bet between calls?
I used to. Betting’s changed a lot. I’ve been going out there all my life, of course, and if they had the pick six back when I started betting, I would have hit that a bunch. I used to pick a whole card! I always tried to beat the favorites, when I could.
You can attract quite a crowd out at Keeneland. What’s it like being a celebrity?

I bet I’m in more photos in one day than most people are in their whole lives. Let me tell you a story. A couple three weeks ago, we brought all the fifth graders in from Fayette County, 15 busloads of them. They brought them into the sales pavilion, and I had to blow my horn to get the whole thing started. So I blow my horn, and then all these fifth graders stand up and start shouting, “Hey Bucky! Hey Bucky!” The fifth graders know me. What a time.

Do you remember if you were nervous the first time you did the call?
I don’t get nervous. I’ve played in front of big crowds. I used to blow the horn for UK football, before the kickoff. I’ve opened the ESPN show a bunch of times. I’ve done things you couldn’t imagine. I went up to New York once and blew my horn to open the New York Stock Exchange, all dressed up in my red suit. I think I’m the first guy who ever did that. It doesn’t do you any good to get nervous.


Rogers Beasley, director of racing | Jimmy Young, maintenance

Lewis Leach, mutuels department | Mary Page, track kitchen supervisor

Herb Petit, sales office | Cathy Schenck, head librarian | Ted Bassett, trustee emeritus