Kentucky Oaks Day to Benefit Cancer Research

Stand Up To Cancer will be beneficiary of Oaks Day fund-raiser.

Churchill Downs Racetrack announced that Stand Up To Cancer (“SU2C”) will be the beneficiary of a fund-raising effort conducted as part of the 138th running of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on Friday, May 4. The Oaks, held on the eve of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is restricted to 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles.

A release from Churchill said 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 release said in response to patron feedback, 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, resulting in the selection of Stand Up To Cancer. Over the last three years, Churchill said it has helped to raise more than $420,000 for cancer research through its Kentucky Oaks Day activities.

“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,” according to the Churchill release. "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.

“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 will donate $1 to Stand Up To Cancer for every person in attendance on Kentucky Oaks Day. Last year, the Oaks attracted 110,122 patrons. 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 Jane Beshear, the wife of Kentucky Gov. Steve 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.”

Among the Oaks Day activities are:

--Survivors Parade presented by Kroger. A colorful full-page placard will be printed inside each Kentucky Oaks Day racing program and fans can write in the name of a loved one affected by cancer and show their support and respect as Survivors Parade participants walk down the stretch of the racetrack.

Nominations are now being accepted at for the 2012 Survivors Parade presented by Kroger, which features female cancer survivors invited by Churchill Downs and SU2C parading along the main track just moments before the running of the Kentucky Oaks.

Guests can nominate themselves, a relative or a friend by sharing a brief personal experience that relates to cancer survival. Nominations are accepted through March 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Voting takes place from March 16 at 5:30 p.m. through March 23 at 5 p.m.. Survivor Parade participants will announced on on March 26

Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite and most inspirational stories and the 138 survivors with the most votes will receive two free reserved seats to the Kentucky Oaks and lunch courtesy of Churchill Downs and Levy Restaurants (travel and hotel accommodations not included).

--”Pink Out!” Tradition. The Pink Out encourages all Oaks attendees to wear pink or incorporate pink into their attire to show their support for cancer survivors. Churchill Downs will be 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.

--Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest. Ladies in attendance on Kentucky Oaks Day can enter the Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest for the chance to win an all expenses paid VIP trip to New York City for the IMG Fall Fashion Week along with a Longines timepiece. Females showcasing their finest Kentucky Oaks attire are encouraged to be judged on the “Pink Carpet” inside the Aristides Garden between the seventh and eighth races from 2-3 p.m. Participants will be judged by celebrities, including former World No. 1 tennis star Stefanie Graf, by how well they incorporate pink into their ensemble. Coverage of the contest is scheduled to be broadcast on NBC.