Louisville Offers Kentucky Derby Events Galore
by Greg Melikov - 04/29/2008
Louisville becomes a three-ring circus during the many days of festivities from April leading up to the Kentucky Derby. There are scores of Kentucky Derby events that draw a crowd, especially this week.
For instance, Dawn at the Downs is a popular tradition that allows visitors to enjoy breakfast in Millionaires Row at Churchill Downs, watching Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders work out.
While breakfast is served 7-8:30 a.m. EDT, a host announces what horses are on the track, discusses past performances and provides insight for both races. Workouts are shown on TV monitors while the host's observations are broadcast throughout the track.
The two-day American Founders Bank Derby Festival WineFest begins today at Waterfront Park and runs 5-9 p.m. for two days. Wine-tasting sessions, an etched souvenir glass and a WineFest pin are included in the admission price of $31.
There are quite a few Kentucky Derby events scheduled on the same day about the same time.
For example, the "Down the Stretch" Pre-Derby Dinner, which benefits Thoroughbred Charities of America, is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Seviche - A Latin Bistro. The RSVP ticket is $100. It includes Woodford Reserve sampling, a silent auction, surf and turf dinner and a handicapping seminar.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Moonlight & Magnolias Kentucky Derby Gala will be held at Dismas Charities. Admission is $150. The affair features a catered buffet dinner, a silent auction and live music.
Proceeds go to Dismas, which specializes in community-based re-entry programs in the criminal justice system jurisdiction. The organization operates 25 facilities and three support offices in 10 states.
The post position draw for the 134th Derby will be staged 5-6 p.m. Wednesday at Fourth Street Live in Louisville and televised on ESPN.
On Thursday, Bowl for the Roses gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at Lucky Strike Lanes inside Fourth Street Live. The event, which features celebrities and athletes from various sports and is co-hosted by jockey Robby Albarado, benefits Visually Impaired Pre-School Services. Admission for non-bowlers is $150.
Celebrities at various functions will be numerous during the week. The Budweiser Select suite at Churchill Downs trots out singer-actor Justin Timberlake, the Goo Goo Dolls and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey.
The Lacheys will host the Budweiser Select Kentucky Derby Pre-Party at the In Touch Weekly Party that's open to the public beginning at 10 p.m. Friday.
A pair of legendary jockeys will be special guests of Jane Dempsey and the 62nd annual Kentucky Derby Junket.
Dave Erb, who won the '56 Derby with Needles, and Braulio Baeza, who guided Chateaugay to victory in '63, will honored in a special ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Galt House Hotel & Suite's "Gallop to Glory."
Their handprints will be added in cement to those of 27 other winning Derby riders on display. In addition, there will be a tribute to two-time Derby winner Ismael Valenzuela, who will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in the summer.
The two-day Crown Royal Festival in the Field at the track begins after admission gates open at 11 a.m. Thursday. A concert featuring country music singer-songwriter Kellie Pickler and alternative metal band Finger Eleven on the infield stage at Churchill Downs starts at noon.
On Friday, the entertainment, which also includes local and regional groups, begins at 10:30 a.m. after gates open at 8:30.
For a detailed list of activities throughout Louisville, click Derby on courier-journal.com.