Famed bugle player passes away after 50 years at Keeneland - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Famed bugle player passes away after 50 years at Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- He provided the soundtrack for the sport of horse racing by doing it his way. 

The man who started races at Keeneland for five decades, George "Bucky" Sallee, died Monday from natural causes. He was 87. 

If you visited Keeneland anytime over the past five decades, then you saw him, spoke to him or simply listened to the sounds that started every race at the famed track. 

In the early 1960's "Bucky" bucked tradition. He chose not to play, "Call To The Post," which we hear every year at the Kentucky Derby or pretty much any day you visit Churchill Downs. Instead, the bugle player went with the tune "Boots and Saddles."

"It was special to Bucky," said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason. "It was different to most, if not all, racetracks around the country."

At the ripe age of 84, Bucky put down his instrument. Steve Buttleman picked up the pastime, and he now plays at Churchill Downs and at Keeneland. 

As for Bucky's tenure of 50-plus years playing for the crowds, let's just say Buttleman has a long way to go. 

"I would love to match that. but that would put me at 99. so I don't know if that will happen." 

Now that Bucky has passed, the people that knew him believe his sound, style and signature presences will play on from up above. 

"Bucky is a part of this history that who will be remembered for many generations," Thomason said.  

As of 2002, it's calculated that Bucky had started 10,000 races. He didn't retire for another 11 years, so if you add it up, it's a lot of races and even more memories.

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