The Allure of the Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby Fashion, Red Carpet Bay Area
Kate Upton, Judy Davies, Glyn Davies

Every year since 1875 on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby takes place at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Also known as the “Run for the Roses,” the most “Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” and “America’s Race,” the  1 1/4-mile thoroughbred race is the oldest continuously held major sporting event in North America. The Kentucky Derby is significantly larger than comparable sports events such as the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the NCAA Final Four.

The Kentucky Derby is also the first leg of horse racing’s challenging Triple Crown series. On May 7, 2016, some 170,000 spectators watched Nyquist outrun 19 others to claim the best-known honor in horse racing.

Besides the horse race, what elements add to the allure of the Kentucky Derby? Some say it is the Southern style, the celebrity watching and, in particular, the hats. Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade makes it one of the greatest people-watching events in the world.

The Kentucky Derby and its sister event, the Kentucky Oaks, are sports parties that showcase the finest in spring fashions. This year, designs by one local red carpet favorite Vasily Vein made the cut. Judy Davies wore Vasily Vein to the Kentucky Oaks, the Barnstable Brown Gala and the Derby itself:

Judy Davies explains the allure: “The Kentucky Derby is billed as the greatest two minutes in sports. As a sports lover, I’ve always wanted to see and experience Churchill Downs. It is the world’s most legendary racetrack rich with history and tradition. When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that it would be an amazing gift to have him take me to the Derby.” Her husband Glyn Davies took her not only to the Derby but also to the Kentucky Oaks the day before and the Barnstable Brown Gala the night before.

Celebrity sightings at the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, 2016:

The Longines Kentucky Oaks is America’s premier and most lucrative race for three-year-old fillies – female horses – held each year on the day before the Kentucky Derby. This feature race is a $1 Million Grade 1 stakes race and awards the winning filly a garland of lilies, appropriately named “lilies for the fillies.” Like the Kentucky Derby, the Longines Kentucky Oaks race is one of the longest continually held sporting events in American history, and one of the only horse races to take place at the original site of its inception. The race was established on May 19th, 1875, by the same founder of the Kentucky Derby, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, and is modeled after the British Epsom Oaks. Aside from thunderous live horse racing fans celebrate fashion and fundraising for critical women’s health issues.

The Barnstable Brown Gala on the eve of the Kentucky Derby is co-hosted by twin sisters Patricia Barnstable and Priscilla Barnstable Brown, the famous Doublemint twins. The black-tie soiree at the home of Patricia Barnstable is one of the most coveted tickets of Derby weekend.