May 1, 2024. Louisville, KY. – It was a Battle of the Belles and there’s a new queen of the Ohio River. Upriver rival, the Belle of Cincinnati, was declared the winner of the Shepherd Insurance Great Steamboat Race tonight by judges after crossing the Finish Line first. In the 61st race down the Ohio River, they defeated hometown champion, the Belle of Louisville, who had been the reigning champ for the past four years.

“It was amazing when the boats crossed the Finish Line. We could hear on land the crowds on both boats cheering and having such a great time,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. “You could feel the vibe the entire race.”

Following the race, an Awards Ceremony was held onboard the Belle of Louisville to announce the official winner. The ceremony was packed with shenanigans that had attendees roaring with laughter. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, who experienced his second Shepherd Insurance Great Steamboat Race as Mayor, gave the Belle of Cincinnati a citation for speeding down the Ohio River.

“Well, looky there… the judges missed something. This is your uniform citation, and the Belle of Cincinnati has been cited for speeding down the Ohio River,” Mayor Greenberg joked. Holding up a citation to the crowd, he proclaimed, “Large vessel exceeding safe speeds on the mighty Ohio during Derby Week, and your court location is same time, same place, next year!”

Despite the loss, Belle of Louisville Captain Mark Doty said it was a perfect day for racing steamboats down the Ohio River.

Well, we all had fun didn’t we,” he said. Thanks everybody for keeping this race going for 61 years. We look forward to 61 more.”

Added Belle of Cincinnati Captain Alan Bernstein: “It’s great to be here. We love this Festival. We love coming down here. My crew, every year, just looks forward to this. Thank you all very much.”

The Belle of Cincinnati was presented with the 12-point silver antlers at the post-race award ceremony.

The 14-mile course on the Ohio River started and finished at the Clark Memorial Bridge.

Shepherd Insurance is the Title Sponsor of this year’s race. Official Patient Care Provider: PPL Therapeutic Services, PLLC. Contributing Sponsors: 1/ST BET and Captain Morgan. Official Bourbon: Brough Brothers Distillery. Media Sponsor: Q103.1. Supporting Sponsors: Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati.


June 21 - June 21