Exterminator: A Horse Celebrated in the Arts

‘Exterminator Extravaganza Month’ Begins in Binghamton

BCAC, County Executive Garnar & Mayor David Announce Events Commemorating Kentucky Derby Winner

(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Broome County Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Barno Reynolds joined the Broome County Historical Society, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar, Mayor Richard C. David and local officials at the Jeffrey P. Kraham Broome County Public Library today to kick off Exterminator Extravaganza Month, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the famous Kentucky Derby win by the Binghamton racehorse Exterminator.

“This year, our community will host a slate of fun events to celebrate the centennial of Exterminator’s legendary upset at the 1918 Kentucky Derby,” Reynolds said. “Not only was the racehorse beloved by the Binghamton community, his story is one of the most exciting pieces of local history, and we’re eager to bring the community together to celebrate with a series of great events.”

Exterminator belonged to Willis Sharpe Kilmer, the wealthy Binghamton newspaperman, who bought the horse in early 1918 to help his more-prized racehorse, Sun Briar, during workouts. When Sun Briar faced a medical issue ahead of the 1918 Kentucky Derby, Kilmer agreed to race Exterminator in his place. Regarded by Kilmer then simply as a workhorse, Exterminator “shocked the world” on May 11, 1918 when he overcame 30-1 odds to win the Kentucky Derby, according to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Exterminator competed in 99 races in his career, winning 50 of them and earning the title of American Horse of the Year in 1922. Nicknamed “Old Bones” for his scrawny appearance, Exterminator was eventually elected into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was moved to the Kilmers’ Riverside Drive stable in Binghamton after his retirement and came to be adored by the community. Kilmer’s wife held a party for community members each May to celebrate the horse’s birthday.

“Binghamton’s history is full of fascinating characters and interesting stories, and Exterminator’s story gives us a reason to celebrate,” said Mayor David. “We are grateful to the Broome County Arts Council, the Broome County Historical Society and the other partners involved in the centennial celebrations. Their events in the weeks ahead are part of what makes Binghamton such a great place to live and visit.”

“Thank you to the Broome County Arts Council and Broome County Historical Society for commemorating this anniversary and the legendary racehorse Exterminator. Broome County is proud to be a part of this historical celebration and share this story with the community,” said County Executive Garnar.

A full schedule of events for Exterminator Extravaganza Month is below. For questions or more information, please contact the Broome County Arts Council at (607) 723-4620.

2018 Exterminator Extravaganza schedule:

Tuesday, May 1 through October: Broome County Historical Society photo exhibit of “Old Bones” at the Jeffrey P. Kraham Broome County Public Library

Tuesday, May 1st- Friday June 1st: Roberson Museum and Science Center: Historic photograph of Exterminator and actress Kay Gardner at Sun Briar Court, on display in the lobby; open to the public.

Friday, June 1 (First Friday) at 6-9 p.m.: “Willis Sharpe Kilmer: A Life of Success and Scandal” and footage from the Kentucky Derby Race – viewing at Cooperative Gallery, State St.

Saturday May 5th, 4-8pm, Remlik’s Derby Day: Themed food and beverage options.

Wednesday, May 16, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at WSKG: Talk by Eliza McGraw, author of “Here Comes Exterminator”

Friday, June 1 (First Friday), 6 to 9 p.m. at Broome County Arts Council, 81 State St. in Binghamton: Exterminator Exhibition with work from local artists and Kentucky Derby- themed activities for children (make-your-own Kentucky Derby hats)

Sunday, June 3 at 1 p.m. at Kilmer Mansion/Lew Hecht, Temple President: Reader’s Theater of Old Bones; performance by Bill Gorman and STARR performers; light refreshments will be served.

Open Year Round: Exterminator burial/marker; Whispering Pines Pet Cemetery; Gardner Rd, Binghamton, 13903

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