April 13, 2024. Louisville, KY. – With the traditional spin of a wheel, Ankita Nair (pronounced Un-KEY-TA Nair like fire) of Louisville was named the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen tonight during the 65th annual Fillies Derby Ball Presented By Cadillac/Courtesy Cadillac at the Galt House Hotel’s East Grand Ballroom. Ankita is a third-year Med student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA in three years with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Biology and Society. She is the 2023 Miss University of Louisville and was a Quality of Life finalist at Miss Kentucky. She founded her own preventative health initiative “Let’s Live Kentucky” to improve state healthcare outcomes and led her school’s Medical Spanish program.

This year’s Derby Festival Princesses excitedly waited for the wheel to be spun by Fillies President Melanie Miller. The other members of the Court include: Paighton Brooks of Alexandria, KY, a senior at the University of Louisville with a Double Major in Political Science and Criminal Justice and is a Pre-Law and Public Policy student; Sarah Downs of Springfield, KY, a second-year Med student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine; Emma Rhodes of Louisville, who is in the second year of her Master’s Program at Bellarmine University focusing on Elementary Education, and is a third-grade teacher at Saint Agnes School; and Laurel Riggs of Bardstown, KY, a senior at the University of Kentucky with a dual degree in Political Science and Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies. She is Pre-Law and will be attending UK’s Rosenberg College of Law in the fall.

Chosen each year as ambassadors for the Kentucky Derby Festival, the Royal Court is made up of outstanding young women from around the state. Selected from a pool of nearly 100 applicants, the newly crowned Queen and the Court will reign through 2024 and attend nearly all events during this year’s Festival. They’ll help share the Derby Festival spirit, as well as the importance of academics, volunteerism and community involvement, as they represent the community at a variety of functions.

Criteria for selection included knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus/community involvement. Each woman receives two $1,000 scholarships (one from the Fillies, Inc., and one from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation).They also received an official wardrobe.

Past Derby Festival Queens include Martha Layne Collins – Kentucky’s first woman Governor, the late Gail Gorski – the first female pilot for United Airlines and a number of other community leaders. Many say their Derby Festival experience helped them prepare for their future careers.

The Fillies Derby Ball is Presented By Cadillac/Courtesy Cadillac. Official Sponsor: Total Wine & More. Contributing Sponsor: Capital Access Corporation – Kentucky. Bourbon Pour Sponsor: Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. Supporting Sponsors: Class Act Federal Credit Union and Schmidt Associates. Produced by The Fillies, Inc.

June 21 - June 21