(Edited press release)
For the first time in the 135-year history of the Kentucky Derby, the United Service Organizations will host American soldiers and their families from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox at Churchill Downs for the Run for the Roses May 2.
The day is co-sponsored by West Point Thoroughbreds and Churchill Downs Inc.
“We thank West Point Thoroughbreds and Churchill Downs for helping us provide this experience for our troops,” said Sloan Gibson, USO president. “Through their generosity, the USO is able to provide a unique day of fun to the brave men and women of our military and their families.”
The USO will have a designated hospitality area in the racetrack infield for service members and their families on Derby Day. A Mobile USO also will be onsite.
Participants will be able to watch the big race and have access to the racetrack’s paddock area, as well as food and hospitality offerings throughout the day. A group of attending soldiers will escort the traditional garland of roses to the winner’s circle for the presentation to this year’s champion.
“As a former West Point cadet and graduate, being able to support the USO and host these service members on Derby Day is a privilege for our organization,” said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “Horse racing is often about the struggle and heart to win, and our troops give this country that level of contribution every single day.”