Celebration of Tom Conway’s life Monday 4-7p at Derby Museum

(Keeneland photo of Tom Conway, right, and his son Jack after they won the 2010 Toyota Blue Grass with 40-1 shot Stately Victor)

A celebration of life for prominent Louisville attorney and horse owner Tom Conway —  whose many roles including being a board member of the Kentucky HBPA — will be held Monday, Sept. 27,  from 4-7 p.m. ET at the Kentucky Derby Museum, with memorial comments at 7:15. Tom died at age 83 on Sept. 18 in Louisville, surrounded by his family.

Tom was a force in everything he did. A U.S. Army Military Police Officer in Germany in the early 1960s, he used the GI bill to help fund attending night law school at the University of Louisville. He became a fierce trial attorney and used the same tenacity to stand up for horsemen’s rights, including during his two terms on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

He was passionate about horse racing, a love that started with his Union County roots when Ellis Park served as his hometown track. His biggest victory as a horse owner came in 2010 in winning Keeneland’s Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass with Stately Victor, whose $82.20 win mutuel is the highest in the history of the storied race. He went on to run in the Kentucky Derby.

$82.20 Blue Grass winner repays Conway’s belief in colt

Conway purchased Stately Victor the year before as a 2-year-old auction and named him as a tribute for son Jack’s childhood and high-school friend Victor Perrone, who was killed in a car accident as he worked multiple jobs to put himself through law school. Tom campaigned Stately Victory in partnership with Jack, who at the time was Kentucky’s Attorney General.

While “Victor” had not hit the board in three prior races in Gulfstream Park allowance races as a 3-year-old, trainer Mike Maker – and by extension Tom Conway — continued to believe in the colt and got their payoff. 

That was pretty much Tom: If he believed in you, he stuck with you through thick and thin. 

Tom also campaigned Turfway Park’s Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint winner Matthewsburg, owned in partnership with son Matt; the stakes-winning General Jack, named after  Jack, and General Jumbo, winner of Kentucky Downs’ 2007 Kentucky Cup Turf, along with 2012 Illinois Derby runner-up Morgan’s Guerrilla. 

Tom’s obituary is a wonderful tribute.

This is also a great story, distributed by the Associated Press and published in the Columbia Tribune, as Stately Victor prepared for the 2010 Kentucky Derby.


Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.