06/20/2013 10:17AM

Lexington-area soccer tournament brings horse farms together for charity


While central Kentucky Thoroughbred farms are constantly in competition on the racetrack, in the sale ring, and other venues, occasionally they put that competitive spirit to use for a common cause. Workers from several of the region's prominent farms are set to compete in a soccer tournament raising funds for Blue Grass Farms Charities. The tournament will be held June 23-29 at Dixiana Farm in Lexington, Ky.

Farms fielding a team include Dixiana, which is the presenting sponsor and the host; reigning tournament champion Denali Stud; Gainesway Farm; Juddmonte Farm; Lane's End; Ramsey Farm; Summer Wind Farm; and Three Chimneys Farm.

"It's a pretty star-studded cast of players there," joked Mary Lee-Butte, president of Blue Grass Farms Charities.

The tournament's games, which are free to attend, pit the eight teams against each other in a bracket format, with the first round held June 23, semi-finals on June 25, and the championship and third-place games on June 29. The final games coincide with a family night featuring a barbecue dinner fundraiser sponsored by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. The dinner will include live music, a health fair, and family and children's games and activities.

The tournament was revived last year after being dormant for many years, and proved extremely popular in its first year back. Lee-Butte said people began calling as early as January to ask when the 2013 event would be held.

Blue Grass Farms Charities, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is a non-profit created to provide health, education, and other social services and support for workers in the Thoroughbred industry in central Kentucky. The soccer tournament, along with a similar basketball tournament contested during the winter, help to fulfill the organization's mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle and recreation for industry workers, as well as team-building.

"There's a really big need for recreation, and we work hard to try to fill the gap," Lee-Butte said. "And it's a great opportunity for the management to interface with the day-to-day farm workers. They all come together to practice, and it's a different atmosphere for them to come together without any work pressure and to get to know each other outside of the barns. It's a great team-building opportunity.

"The other thing that we're all about is promoting a healthy lifestyle," Lee-Butte continued. "This year, we have partnered with the University of Kentucky to do health clinics, and these free clinics we do on-site at the farms. Of course, exercise is so important, and these soccer tournaments and basketball tournaments are encouraging people to walk away from going home and sitting down and watching TV—to start working on healthy habits. This ties together with our core mission of promoting health, promoting recreation, and promoting interaction on the farms."

Funds raised at the soccer tournament will benefit Blue Grass Farms Charities' annual summer camp for low-income children of farm families and backstretch workers. The camp, scheduled for July 2-6, is free to children with at least one parent working in the Thoroughbred industry, and all campers receive a new backpack filled with school supplies and a new pair of shoes.

"We want to make sure that when these kids go back to school, they have what they need," Lee-Butte said.

For more information, visit www.bgfcky.com.

Blue Grass Farms Charities Thoroughbred farm soccer tournament
Dixiana Farm, 1301 Dixiana Domino Rd., Lexington, Ky., 40511 (use Kenny Rd. entrance off of Iron Works Pike)

Tournament schedule
All games free to attend

Sunday June 23
First round: Dixiana vs. Juddmonte, 3 p.m.

Lane's End vs. Ramsey Farm, 4:30 p.m.

Three Chimneys vs. Gainesway, 6 p.m.

Denali vs. Summer Wind, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 24
Consolation games (losers from first round), 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 25
Semi-finals (winners from first round), 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 26
Winners of consolation games vs. semi-final losers, 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 29
Third-place game (consolation bracket), 4 p.m.
Championship game and presentation, 5:30 p.m.

Friends and family night: 6:30 p.m., Saturday, June 29
Barbecue dinner; live music; children's activities; health fair; tailgating
Dinner ticket $10