‘He was a titan in the horse industry’: Former Gov. Brereton Jones dies at 84

Jones served as the 50th lieutenant governor of Kentucky, from 1987 to 1991. He was the state's 58th governor from 1991 to 1995.

Lexington, Ky (WTVQ): Former governor and lieutenant governor Brereton Jones has died at the age of 84. Governor Andy Beshear announced his passing on social media Monday afternoon. Jones served as the 50th lieutenant governor of Kentucky, from 1987 to 1991. He was the state’s 58th governor from 1991 to 1995.

Jared Smith, a longtime Democrat Party political operative, knew the Jones family personally. “He was a politician that really didn’t like politics. Which is very, very unusual, especially in this day in age,” Smith said.

Some of Jones’ top priorities during his time as governor included, “… education, it was healthcare reform. It was elevating women to leadership roles throughout the state,” Smith said. Other accomplishments include his passage of the mandatory seat belt law, increased funding of the state park system, and phasing out the state inheritance tax. He is also remembered as a survivor of a helicopter crash during his term in 1992 that left him seriously injured.

Jones and five others were traveling in a state helicopter from Frankfort to Fort Knox. “The urban legend is that the pilot of the helicopter was a Vietnam vet who dumped the gas tank right before they hit the tree,” Smith said. “That’s why everybody survived, they were banged up but he’s a survivor. He appreciated life and he always tried to make his community better.”

What Jones was most known for, however, was his work in the horse industry. He was a founder, and visionary leader in the Kentucky Equine Education Project known as (KEEP), which was started in 2004. “He was a titan in the horse industry. He left the horse industry better than he found it, and I think that is very, very important,” Smith said.

Jones also worked with the state legislature to create the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund and the establishment of historical horse racing in the Commonwealth. “He was one of the few people that said coal is here because it is here actually in the ground,” Smith said. “Bourbon is here because of the limestone water and the hot summers and the cold winters for the aging process. The horse industry does not have to be here. They can be anywhere.”

Jones was one of America’s most prominent breeders for more than 30 years.

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