Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum Receives Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies


Dr. Elisabeth Gabrielle Kuenzli

Dr. Elisabeth Gabrielle Kuenzli

Aiken, S.C. – The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, in partnership with Dr. Elisabeth Gabrielle Kuenzli, Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina has been named one of twelve national awardees of the 2021 Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowship program by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

The fellowship program offers opportunities for faculty in departments or programs which grant PhDs in fields of humanistic study to engage significant societal questions in their research, serve as ambassadors for humanities scholarship beyond the academy, and deepen their support for innovations in doctoral education on their campuses. This program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Scholars and Society Fellows conduct research projects while in residence at cultural, media, government, policy, or community organizations. The awards enable mutually beneficial collaborations between fellows and their host institutions and the communities they serve. Fellows return to their classrooms prepared to apply insights from their residencies and community engagements that enrich training for current PhD students in the humanities and related social sciences.

“ACLS is proud to support this exciting cohort of scholars who are demonstrating the value and vital impact of humanistic scholarship in society,” said ACLS President Joy Connolly. “Through the generous commitment of the Mellon Foundation, the Scholars and Society program has enabled talented higher education teaching faculty to contribute to urgent issues facing communities across the country and apply the important insights they’ve attained in supporting the next generation.”

Dr. Kuenzli’s project is Jockeying Into Position: Race, Ethnicity, and the Rise of the Latino Jockey in the American South, XX-XXI Centuries. Horseracing, one of the oldest and most celebrated sports in America, is embedded in Southern culture and identity. Kuenzli states that journalists repeatedly refer to the premier horse racing event, the Kentucky Derby, as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Yet what transpires in those two minutes reflects decades-long changes that have redefined social and racial hierarchies in the sport and in American society. The majority of the successful jockeys in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are Latino. The Aiken Training Track, founded in 1942 and located in Aiken, SC, is a premier training center, especially for young horses. Boasting slogans such as “Train Here, Win Anywhere,” link Aiken to nationally competitive racehorses such as Forty-Niner and Palace Malice.

In partnership with Lisa J. Hall, coordinator of the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum in Aiken, South Carolina, the exhibit will historicize the role of the Latino jockey as well as render visible the place of Latinos in a rural southern community. This case study will illuminate the experience of the growing Latino population through the exhibit’s central themes of race, immigration, and power in the U.S. Horse racing is a useful site of analysis not only because a high number of Latinos work in the equine industry but also because it is a profession in which Latinos have experienced success at the highest echelons of the sport. The project’s use of sports as a source, and plans for broadly disseminating results, are avenues for encouraging and supporting diverse career pathways for PhDs within and outside the academy.

The Hall of Fame will receive a $10,000 grant that will be used to fund an upgrade to the museum with interactive equipment and software that will not only highlight this project but will be used for current or future exhibits. “The Hall of Fame is grateful and excited to be a part of this program and for the funding that will help to upgrade our exhibits. Dr. Kuenzli is a valuable advocate for the Hall of Fame and great resource with her vast knowledge of horse racing.” stated Lisa J. Hall.

The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Hopelands Gardens at 135 Dupree Place (off Whiskey Road) and celebrates Aiken‘s contributions to equestrian sports. The Racing Hall of Fame is open Tuesday–Friday from 2-5 pm, Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 2 – 5 pm. For more information, call 803-642-7631, e-mail or visit the Hall of Fame website at If your business or organization is interested in supporting the Hall of Fame or would like to sponsor an exhibit, please visit

Media Contact:
City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism P. O. Box 1177
Aiken, SC 29802 Phone: 803-643-2121 E-Mail: