May 3, 2023. Louisville, KY. – The Belle of Louisville is still the queen of the Ohio River for the fourth straight year. The hometown steamboat was declared the winner of the Shepherd Insurance Great Steamboat Race tonight following deliberations by the judges, the boat Captains, Derby Festival Officials and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg. The Belle was deemed the first steamboat to cross the finish line in the 60th run of the race, which pitted her against her up-river rival the Belle of Cincinnati and southern rival, the American Countess.
“It was a beautiful day for racing steamboats on the Ohio River,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. “The Shepherd Insurance Great Steamboat Race is one of our favorite Derby week traditions and there’s never a dull moment with riverboat rivalry.”
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 kept attendees guessing, including multiple comical interruptions and objections from Belle of Cincinnati Captain Alan Bernstein.
“They told me the race started at 6 and that’s when I started,” Belle of Cincinnati Captain Alan Bernstein said. “It’s an honor for us to come down and participate in this great race. And we’ll be back next year no matter what happens.”
Mayor Greenberg experienced his first Great Steamboat Race as Mayor of Louisville. He shared a video with the crowd showing the Belle of Cincinnati starting early in an attempt to cheat. He declared emphatically that it was “as clear as daylight that the Belle of Louisville crossed the finished line first.”
“We had no tricks up our sleeve,” said Belle of Louisville Captain Mark Doty. “It was a great day. I hope everyone had fun!”
Greenberg joked that he had contacted the Mayor of Cincinnati and would be implementing some new rules for future races down the Ohio River. As co-owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling, Greenberg teased, “we’re going to have wrestlers from the OVW in each one of the wheelhouses to make sure that you, Captain Bernstein, and all of the other captains abide by the rules. Because in Louisville, we play by the rules, we win fair and square, just as the Belle of Louisville did tonight.”
The American Countess placed third in this year’s race. “We’d like to thank you for inviting us,” said American Countess Captain Scott Dunham. “We had a good time. All of our passengers love it. It was a good race. It was a fast race.”
The Belle of Louisville was presented with the 12-point silver antlers at the post-race award ceremony. The Belle also won the last race in 2022 and has won a total of 31 times since the river rivalry began in 1963.
The three boats participated in a traditional race on the river. The 14-mile course on the Ohio River started and finished at the Clark Memorial Bridge. This is the second year the American Countess was part of the race.
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.