Carencro artist with Kentucky Derby ties gives back to the industry

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CARENCRO, La. (KLFY) – A local painter with decades of equestrian history gives back to those in need.

That Kentucky derbies was held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday. A local painter whose family has been in the equestrian industry for generations is giving back to those in need with the fundraiser for the permanently disabled jockey. A dream came true for the painter to help those in need by auctioning off his work to the fundraiser.

“Here I am going to Kentucky with some of my paintings and living a dream come true,” says Keith Estilette.

Painting has always been a matter of course for Estilette. Art has always been a part of his world. He remembers growing up always having a pencil in hand. “I grew up with a pencil in my hand and have always loved to draw. As I’ve gotten older over the past few years, I’ve started experimenting more with canvas painting,” said Estilette.

His pictures posted on Facebook earned him an appeal for the Disabled Jockeys fundraiser. “It just went coast to coast and then I was approached by an organization that benefits permanently disabled jockeys. I’ve been asked if I’d be interested in doing some artwork and have donated some paintings to this year’s fund for Kentucky Derby week,” he said.

Estilette donated several of his pieces. They were each signed by the jockeys in the artwork, as jockey John Velasquez, jockey Mitchell Murrill, jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. and other Louisiana jockeys signed them.

Estilette’s family has been involved in the horse racing industry for several generations. He remembers his family spending Sunday afternoons at the old Carencro circuit. He said his father was a trainer while his brother was a jockey. “My dad had a race track behind his house and Corey and his mom and dad lived next door and we were young. We ran around the track pretending to race and I’m sure we pretended we were in the Kentucky Derby,” Estilette said.

A rider from the family is Corey Lanerie. He drove in the Derby this year. Lanerie, whose horse name is Smile Happy. They finished 5th in the race.

Estilette is reminded of how proud he really is of him. “It’s just very exciting to know you and to have someone so close to you – my only nephew. I get emotional talking about it,” he said. “He started riding professionally at the age of 16. Here he is, this 16-year-old boy, and now he’s in the Kentucky Derby.”

But there is one thing he hopes will make his ultimate dream come true. “My big goal in all of this is to one day be selected as the official poster artist of the Kentucky Derby. I think that will probably be the pinnacle of my career as an artist,” he said.

All of Estilette’s artworks have been signed and sold. The painting was bid on at: Derby Delights – Charity Auction Group, where all proceeds of the auction benefit Fund for Permanently Disabled Jockeys. The winner of the auction was Louisiana Pride.

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