George “Bucky” Sallee was the bugler for Keeneland Race Track, for over 50 plus years “Bucky” was an icon for Keeneland race fans. Bucky achieved celebrity status, signing autographs and making special appearances. One event Bucky attended was the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance.
It was 2004 and about the third meeting around the Jone’s (Tom and Connie / chairs) kitchen table discussing the birth of the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance. Ideas on all topics were flowing; one member (Jim Levenson) mentioned the Keeneland guy with the trumpet. That single person so recognized by all the fans of the Keeneland track – to have him at our event would be a great tie to the new partnership. Needed was a strong symbol, an icon, something you’d immediately understand. Who better than Bucky! A perfect ambassador from the Keeneland track to a community event held on those same grounds.
Bucky dressed in the pomp and ceremony attire would arrive early and stay late. He loved the crowd, and those people loved him back. He’d step to the awards ramp raise his bugle and in traditional fashion draw peoples attention to gather – the awards ceremony was about to begin. Such a success – a stylized caricature of Bucky – the person – was adopted for all KCdE’s marketing and advertising materials.
Thank you, Bucky for getting us revved up by the sound of your horn. You made the experience of the KCdE shows even more memorable.
A native of Lexington. He started trumpet lessons at the age of 7.
Majored in music at the University of Kentucky.
Played in the 50’s and 60’s with several notable bands and headliners.
Retired from Keeneland after 50 years in the fall of 2013, became the Bugler Emeritus.
Died at age 87 on Monday, November 7, 2013
Bucky performed his signature “Boots and Saddles” for the post parade and “Assembly” at post time.
Keeneland’s tribute posted November 8, 2016.
Noted race horse magazine, Bloodhorse – paid tribute as well. Here is that link.