NEW ALBANY — About two years ago, a life-sized horse statue disappeared from Pat Harrison's real estate office in New Albany.
She still hasn't found him, but a twin now stands in his place.
On Wednesday afternoon, another equine statue was transported to her RE/MAX FIRST office at 4209 Charlestown Road. Like her missing horse, the statue is modeled after His Eminence, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1901.
"I'm just totally happy," Harrison said. "We've got our horse back. What can I say? He should have been here, and we missed him."
Harrison bought the original horse in 2003 at a Gallopalooza fundraiser for $2,250, and it sat on a pedestal in front of her office until July 2017. It even survived after being damaged in a fire that destroyed her office building in 2006.
The horse was knocked over in a storm one day in 2017, and about a week later, the horse disappeared. Someone later told Harrison that she saw the statue that night on the back of a trailer going down Charlestown Road, but she assumed that it was being removed for cleaning or something of that nature.
After the disappearance, Harrison put out missing posters for the horse and spread the word on Facebook, and the theft received attention from local news organizations. She even drove around local subdivisions in search of her horse, but there was no sign of him.
The Gallopalooza horses come in many different styles and colors, and each one is unique. In 2017, Harrison purchased another statue from a man in Louisville for about $3,000 to serve as a replica of the statue of His Eminence.
At first, the new statue was painted red, white and blue, but the stance of the horse was similar to His Eminence, and she decided to have it repainted to match her original statue.
The statue was repainted, transported and installed by Kahl's Body Shop in New Albany. The horse now resembles the original — it is painted black with a jacket of red and white, and it is adorned with a red crown and a gold bowtie.
Jason Kahl, manager at Kahl's Body Shop, spent about six months refurbishing the statue. He is used to working on cars, so painting a statue was a completely new kind of project.
Before, the statue was marked by BB gun damage, and the paint was chipped from people weed-eating around it — it was "pretty beat up," he said. He stripped the original paint from the statue, and he coated the statue with the same kind of paint used on Corvettes.
"It was fun," Kahl said. "When you're done, you can step back and look at it. When you fix cars all day long, sometimes it's nice to step back and look at stuff like that."
Harrison said she was excited to have the horse statue in place before the Kentucky Derby. She grew up near Churchill Downs, and she is a member of "The Fillies Club," a group of women who support the Kentucky Derby Festival Committee.
Her horse statue has always been popular with kids, who would sometimes sit upon the horse, she said. She is happy the community can now continue to enjoy the presence of a Gallopalooza horse at her office.
"The kids can come by and say, 'horsey, horsey,'" Harrison said.
Harrison hopes that her original horse is still around somewhere, even if he has been completely repainted. Most of all, she hopes that he is somewhere where children can still see him.
She hasn't given up her hopes of finding her original statue someday. If he is returned, she plans to place him right by his twin.
"We'd be like the twin spires of Churchill Downs," Harrison said. "We'd have twin horses."