May 1, 2023. Louisville, KY. – Two Belles and a Countess will battle it out as the Shepherd Insurance Great Steamboat Race gears up to dash down the river on Wednesday, May 3. This year marks the 60th race of this long-running Festival favorite, which pits the Belle of Louisville against her rival from upriver, the Belle of Cincinnati, along with the American Countess, as they compete for bragging rights and the coveted Silver Antlers.

“We’re just a couple of days away from our favorite race on the Ohio River,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “The Great Steamboat Race is one of the oldest traditions on the Derby Festival schedule. Best of luck to all the boats and may the best boat win!”

Shepherd Insurance joins the event as the new Title Sponsor for 2023. ““We value our partnership with the Kentucky Derby Festival, and this year will be the first year we’ve been part of the Great Steamboat Race. We’ve sponsored other events over the years and wanted to mix it up a little bit this year,” said Trent Hunt, Executive Partner and COO Kentuckiana Region for Shepherd Insurance.

The Official Cocktail of the Great Steamboat Race was unveiled this morning by Louisville’s Brough Brothers Distillery, the Official Bourbon of the Great Steamboat Race for the second year. During the race, Brough Brothers, the first African American-owned distillery in Kentucky, will be serving up a bourbon cocktail named the “6-0” to commemorate the 60th run of the Great Steamboat Race to guests on the Belle of Louisville. It features Brough Brothers Bourbon, lemonade, muddled strawberries and ice, garnished with a fresh strawberry.

“We’re excited to be back,” said Victor Yarbrough, CEO of Brough Brothers Distillery, who grew up watching the legendary race. “It’s a fantastic drink that we think the guests will enjoy this year.”

The 14-mile course on the Ohio River starts and finishes at the Clark Memorial Bridge. Each boat will be assigned two judges, in addition to an overall event judge from the Derby Festival. The majority decision of the judges will be final. The winner will be presented with the set of 12-point Silver Antlers at the post-race ceremony.

The Belle of Louisville is the current reigning champ, and Captain Mark Doty shared his tips for winning ahead of the race at this morning’s event. “The strategy… I never have any” he said with a laugh. “I just plan on keeping 200 pounds of steam on the boiler and the throttle wide open, return back to the Wharf safe, and make sure the passengers have a good time.”

Boarding for the Great Steamboat Race will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., with all the boats departing the shore at 5:45 for a 6 p.m. start. The Awards Ceremony will take place immediately following on the Chow Wagon Stage at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront. Tickets for the Belle of Louisville are sold out but to purchase tickets on the Belle of Cincinnati, call (800) 261-8586.

Shepherd Insurance is the Title Sponsor of the Great Steamboat Race. Contributing Sponsors: Don Julio Tequila and PPL Therapeutic Services, PLLC. Official Bourbon: Brough Brothers Distillery. Media Sponsor: Q103.1.

June 21 - June 21