For the fourth year in a row, Churchill Downs will transform itself into a pink wonderland when it welcomes guests to the 138th running of the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. The 1 1/8 mile race for three-year-old fillies will run on Friday, May 4, the day before the Kentucky Derby.
Over the past three years, the Oaks Day celebration has become a time to honor women, especially those affected by breast cancer. Through a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Churchill Downs has helped to raise more than $420,000 for cancer research during its Oaks Day activities. It was partly based on feedback from Kentucky Oaks fans that led the Churchill Downs marketing department to seek a new partnership for its Kentucky Oaks Day celebration this year—one that focuses on funding cancer research related to a broader base of cancers that affect women and their families.
Stand Up To Cancer, which was launched in 2008, aims to accelerate ground-breaking research and bring new treatments to patients quickly. The organization involves the collaborative work of patients, clinicians, scientists, families, and more. Through its funding model, Stand Up To Cancer awards scientific grants to multi-institutional groups of scientists who work together to develop new cancer treatments. It also awards grants to groundbreaking high risk cancer research projects that have the potential to significantly improve patient care.
"We are so grateful to Churchill Downs for their generous support of Stand Up To Cancer,” Stand Up To Cancer co-founder Rusty Robertson said. “The Kentucky Oaks is such a prestigious event and we are honored to be the beneficiary. Through this collaboration, we will be able to raise much needed dollars to continue accelerating the most promising cancer research."
Churchill Downs will continue its tradition of the Survivors Parade presented by Kroger in which previously nominated female cancer survivors are selected to participate in a parade down the track from the backside to the paddock. Nominations are currently being sought, so nominate a woman you know that has survived cancer or one that is currently at battle with the disease. Describe what inspires you about the nominee and why this woman should represent other survivors. If you happen to be a cancer survivor, feel free to nominate yourself. Each selected survivor will receive two reserved seats to the Kentucky Oaks, lunch, and, of course, the honor of strutting her stuff before a crowd of adoring fans.
Nominations will be taken through 5 p.m. Friday, March 16. Voting will start that same day beginning at 5:30 p.m. and will run through 5:00 p.m. March 23. The 138 selected survivors will be announced March 26. For more information and the nomination form, click here.
"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."
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Oaks