Officials Pumping Up Oaks Attendance With Partnerships
LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 12, 2009, WLKY — With a sagging economy also affecting horse racing, there's a new push tonight to pump up attendance at the Kentucky Oaks.
On Wednesday, Churchill Downs executives announced three new partnerships designed to bring more people to the track.
Specifically, they're targeting women, and have included the new tag line, "Ladies First."
Tricia Amburgey is a breast cancer survivor, a wife and mother of three young children who has worked at Churchill Downs for 17 years. She's currently undergoing chemotherapy.
"Certainly, the support of my family and friends and colleagues have really helped me through this," she said.
Churchill Downs is partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure on Oaks Day.
For each general admission and reserve ticket to the Oaks sold, $1 will be donated to that charity, and for every Oaks lily sold, $1 will go to Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear's breast cancer initiative called "Horses and Hope."
Furthermore, the Bravo cable network will air a new one-hour show featuring the food, fashion and celebrity of Oaks.
"It's probably the most unknown sporting event in the United States with 100,000 people showing up every year, so we set out to change that," said Churchill Downs President and CEO Bob Evans.
In addition, everyone is encouraged to wear some pink on Oaks Day. There will be a new "First Lady of Fashion" contest, and breast cancer survivors will form a horseshoe-shaped Winners Circle for the Oaks winner.
Before the race, 135 breast cancer survivors for the 135th Oaks will have a survivor's parade.
Amburgey will be one of them.
"I'm actually so excited to take a break from work and be able to just really take in the crowd, take in everything that we're doing, and be surrounded by other survivors, which is just the best support you can have," she said.
Evans said with the tough economy, some people have returned tickets for both Oaks and Derby, but he said there's a long line of people who want tickets for both events.
He also said the new infield clubhouse seats are basically sold out. As a result, he thinks sales for the event will turn out fine.