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A bit of history of South Central Printing, Inc.

Few are aware of an important role this long established Columbia business had in the production of Kentucky Derbies and Breeders Cup events of the past three and one-half decades. But American Pharaoh's win Saturday triggered memories for South Central Printing CEO Ralph Waggener about the connection between the great racing events and a printing plant in Columbia.

By Ralph Waggener
Founder and CEO of South Central Printing

While watching the Breeders Cup Saturday it made me remember that we had printed the bloodlines book for The Breeders Cup races sometime in the past.

When talking to my daughter Lee Grider, I asked her if she remembered. Back in my office where I keep some of the many books we have printed I found a copy of the 1987 issue of the bloodlines book we had printed that year.

There were eight races that year and we had to set all the copy by hand, because what we would get from the writers was composed on a typewriter, so we had to reset, proof it, and send back to the writer for their proof. They, in turn, would send back to us to correct if needed and again send the copy back and forth.

It was a big deal back then as it was when we did the Kentucky Derby Bloodlines book. After one time doing the bloodlines for eight different races, not one race like the Kentucky Derby, we decided it was too much work for us and would not be able to give time for our regular customers, and turned down the chance for doing the next years book.

I found a 1981 copy of a Kentucky Derby Bloodlines book and I believe it was the first one we did in a long line of some 30 years of doing the Kentucky Derby.

With this book, we would usually set from 45 to 85 horse bloodlines that might possibly run in the Kentucky Derby. We would set the type, take it to Louisville for a Mr. Johnson to proof, and back and forth to Louisville until the right selection was made and printed.

Things changed over the years until the copy would come to us by E-Mail and we would put the copy into page form and E-Mail back and forth until it was ready to print.

The eight races of the Breeders Cup would have a field of horses in each race that we had to set. This would take a lot of time to set - so many horses - that why we backed out of doing the Breeders Cup; but continued for many years doing the Kentucky Derby Bloodlines book and later on, we did all three of the Triple Crown races here in Columbia.

We no longer do this job, because technology made it easier for Churchill Downs to get this information out electronically. - Ralph Waggener

This story was posted on 2015-11-01 18:59:07
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Adair Co. Graphics Arts history: Early printing, Bloodlines Books

2015-11-02 - South Central Printing, Wain Street, Columbia, KY - Photo from Ralph Waggener.
Ralph Waggener, founder and CEO of South Central Printing, shares this photo of the earliest bloodlines books printed by the local firm. On the left is the first Derby book, printed for the 107th Derby in 1981, and six years later, the printing company's first Breeders' Cup book, printed for the fourth Breeders Club, held at Hollywood Park. - EW

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