Churchill Downs Kentucky Oaks Day

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Churchill Downs Racetrack was aglow in pink again for the 138th running of the Kentucky Oaks - America's premier race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 4 and annual celebration of food, fashion and fun - as the springtime event welcomed a new beneficiary in Stand Up To Cancer ("SU2C") to raise vital funds and awareness for cancer research.

Conducted each year on the eve of the famed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the Kentucky Oaks is the Derby's $1 million companion race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles. Patrons are urged to wear pink, the official color of the Oaks, on this special day that continues its"Ladies First" focus and ongoing outreach effort on women's health issues. The third most attended day of racing in the U.S. - only after the Derby and Preakness - will feature grand Oaks Day traditions such as the emotional and inspiring Survivors Parade presented by Kroger and the Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest. The Kentucky Oaks race, along with additional pre-race programming, will be televised live nationally by the new NBC Sports Network from 5-6 p.m. ET.

Stand Up To Cancer becomes only the second charitable initiative for the Kentucky Oaks since many of those traditions were first introduced in 2009. Acknowledging feedback from many Kentucky Oaks fans, the Churchill Downs marketing team opened a search last year for an organization that focused on funding innovative cancer research, and that represented a broader scope of cancers affecting women and their families.

The Stand Up To Cancer initiative raises funds to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research that will deliver new therapies to patients quickly and save lives through a collaborative effort throughout the cancer research community. The organization's goal in accelerating cancer research is to help transform the disease from one that takes far too many lives to a disease that people survive.

In a three-year span, Churchill Downs has helped to raise more than $420,000 for cancer research through its Kentucky Oaks Day activities.

"Kentucky Oaks Day is all about the ladies," Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said. "When our female fans told us that cancer affects their lives in many different ways, we listened and responded with an opportunity for all of our fans to get involved in supporting the research and prevention efforts of the many types of cancers that need our attention. We think this is a really strong fit as Stand Up To Cancer seeks to accelerate the development of new cancer treatments and our exciting day of racing can help put them on the fast track to do just that."

Churchill Downs donated $1 to Stand Up To Cancer for every person in attendance on Kentucky Oaks Day. Last year, the Oaks attracted 110,122 patrons for a day of fun, competition and celebration. Additionally, Churchill Downs will donate $1 from each sale of Oaks Lilies, the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks, to Horses and Hope. Founded in 2008 by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear and the Kentucky Cancer Program, Horses and Hope helps provide breast cancer awareness, education and early detection and treatment referral in Kentucky's horse racing industry.

"We are so grateful to Churchill Downs for their generous support of Stand Up To Cancer. The Kentucky Oaks is such a prestigious event and we are honored to be the beneficiary," Stand Up To Cancer co-founder Rusty Robertson said. "Through this collaboration, we will be able to raise much needed dollars to continue accelerating the most promising cancer research."

 

New Survivors Parade Fan Moment

One way Oaks Day attendees showed their support is by holding up a pink placard during the Survivors Parade presented by Kroger. A colorful full-page placard was printed inside each Kentucky Oaks Day racing program and fans wrote in the name of a loved one affected by cancer. This show of support and respect as Survivors Parade participants walk down the stretch of the racetrack made for a wonderful Oaks Day memory for everyone on hand and for those watching at home. Everyone can Stand Up To Cancer!

 

"Pink Out!" The Tradition Continues

The official color of the Kentucky Oaks is pink in celebration of all the ladies. The Pink Out encouraged all Oaks attendees to wear pink or incorporate pink into their attire to show their support for cancer survivors. Churchill Downs was decked out in pink as well, including pink-colored décor, flower beds, flags and jockeys' and pony riders' apparel. Churchill Downs bugler Steve Buttleman will sport a pink jacket as he calls horses to the post throughout Oaks
Day.

 

$1 Million Kentucky Oaks

With a $1 million guaranteed purse, the Kentucky Oaks is the most lucrative American horse race for 3-year-old fillies. Twenty-six Oaks winners have gone on to be crowned with an Eclipse Award as North America's champion 3-year-old filly.

The purse reflects the Oaks' status and importance as a sports and entertainment event. The race has attracted crowds in excess of 100,000 in 12 of the last 13 years, including an unprecedented 116,046 in 2010, and has set records with more than $11.4 million bet on the race and $37.5 million bet on the entire Oaks card a year ago. To further demonstrate the growth of Oaks Day over the last 30 years, attendance topped 50,000 for the first time in 1981, 75,000 in 1992 and 100,000 in 1999.