They're Off!® Luncheon Presented by BAE Systems

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The official corporate kick-off of the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival – the 67th annual They’re Off! Luncheon – is set for Friday, April 19, 2024.

More than 1,500 Derby Festival supporters and patrons are expected to be in attendance for this community tradition, which will be held in the Grand Ballroom of The Galt House Hotel, site of the festive event since 1974.

Over the years, notable speakers have included Jay Bilas, Kirk Herbstreit, Erin Andrews, Sam Champion, Robin Roberts and Terry Bradshaw as well as many others in a long list of luminaries who have entertained They’re Off! Luncheon audiences for the past 66 years.

Tickets: $130 each or $1,040 for a table of 8 (includes access to cash bar reception prior to doors opening, reserved seating and lunch, remarks by dignitaries and special guest speaker, goodie bag and event pin)

 

Though the annual kick-off luncheon started in 1957, the tradition of a keynote address was not added until 1974.

1974 – Howard Cosell
1975 – Ambassador John Sherman Coope, A. B. Happy Chandler, Colonel Harland Sanders, Coach Adolph Rupp
1976 – George Plimpton
1977 – Heywood Hale Broun
1978 – Bruce Jenner
1979 – Ben L. Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Maxie L. Anderson
1980 – George Blanda
1981 – Al McGuire
1982 – George Steinbrenner
1983 – Jack Whitaker
1984 – Howard Schnellenberger
1985 – Hank Aaron
1986 – Billy Packer
1987 – Phil Simms
1988 – Joe Jacoby
1989 – Cawood Ledford
1990 – Bettina Gregory
1991 – Bob Costas
1992 – Rick Pitino
1993 – Mike Ditka
1994 – Denny Crum
1995 – D. Wayne Lukas
1996 – Larry King
1997 – Rosie Grier
1998 – Greg Gumbel
1999 – Dan Jansen
2000 – Earvin “Magic” Johnson
2001 – James Earl Jones
2002 – Lily Tomlin
2003 – Dick Vitale
2004 – Bill Walton
2005 – Lesley Stahl
2006 – Terry Bradshaw
2007 – Boomer Esiason
2008 – Deborah Norville
2009 – Robin Roberts
2010 – “Dr. J” Julius Erving
2011 – Sam Champion
2012 – Erin Andrews
2013 – Archie Manning
2014 – Kirk Herbstreit
2015 – Jay Bilas
2016 – Kenny Mayne
2017 – Seth Davis
2018 – Mike Tirico
2019 – Hannah Storm
2022 – Terrell Davis
2023 – Matt Iseman
2024 – Sugar Ray Leonard

The Silver Horseshoe Award is presented to an individual or company that has demonstrated outstanding service or contributions to the community.

1962 – Tom “Cactus” Brooks
1963 – not given
1964 – not given
1965 – Roscoe Goose
1966 – Wathen R. Knebelkamp
1967 – Henry Forrest
1968 – Allan W. (Doc) Lavin
1969 – Colonel Anna F. Goldman
1970 – Lynn Stone
1971 – Warner L. Jones, Jr.
1972 – William F. Lucas
1973 – John W. Galbreath
1974 – Penny Chenery Tweedy
1975 – Thruston B. Morton
1976 – C.V. Whitney
1977 – William H. May
1978 – Colonel Matt J. Winn (posthumously)
1979 – Cawood Ledford
1980 – Mrs. Gene Markey
1981 Ed McGrath
1982 John R. Gaines (introduced the idea of the Breeders’ Cup in his acceptance speech – 1st event would be in 1984)
1983 – Woody Stephens
1984 – Don Brumfield
1985 – Pat Day
1986 – C.R. (Shug) McGaughey
1987 – Jim McKay
1988 – Eddie Arcaro
1989 – Warner L. Jones, Jr.
1990 – James Graham Brown (posthumously)
1991 – Arthur Hancock
1992 – Thomas H. Meeker
1993 – James E. Bassett, III
1994 – not given
1995 – W. T. Young
1996 – Louis J. Hermann, Jr.
1997 – Mike Battaglia
1998 – N/A*
1999 – Tori Murden
2000 – Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd Airlift Wing
2001 – The Kroger Company
2002 – Mayor David Armstrong
2003 – WHAS Crusade for Children
2004 – George Zambelli Sr. (posthumously)
2005 – 1956 Kentucky Derby Festival Founding Sponsors
2006 – Americana Community Center
2007 – New Bolton Center in memory of Barbaro
2008 – Delta Queen Steamboat
2009 – Thoroughbred Charities of America in memory of Eight Belles.
2010 – Kentucky Derby Museum
2011 – Louisville Metro Police Department
2012 – The American Red Cross / Louisville Chapter
2013 – James Graham Brown Cancer Center
2014 – Dare To Care
2015 – Jim King / Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
2016 – West Louisville Performing Arts Academy
2017 – Muhammad Ali Center
2019 – John Asher
2022 – Jefferson County Public Schools
2023 – Latonia Bland
2024 – Churchill Downs Foundation (earmarked for Thoroughbred Aftercare)

*In 1998, the KDF took a year off in awarding the Silver Horseshoe award so that new criteria for selection could be determined for the award.

Legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard is this year’s featured speaker.

The renowned sports icon, Olympic Gold Medalist and Hall of Famer is known for his charismatic personality and his excellence outside the ring. He founded the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation, which is committed to funding life-changing research for pediatric type 1 and type 2 diabetes and helping children build early healthy habits.

Leonard’s celebrated career includes three National Golden Gloves titles, two Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championships, the 1975 Pan-American Games crown, and a Gold Medal in boxing at the 1976 Olympic Games. He’s the first boxer to win world titles in five different weight classes. His blinding speed, tremendous power, and palpable charm led to Leonard being a media favorite and dubbed the “new Muhammad Ali,” by the late Howard Cosell.

In addition to his boxing career, Leonard is a philanthropist, best-selling author, television personality and ringside analyst. He has always been devoted to his community and helping those in need and fulfills that passion through the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation. Since its inception 14 years ago, the Foundation has funded countless research projects and offered life-changing patient care for children living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the Foundation is also committed to helping children lead healthier lives through diet and exercise and equipping them with the tools to be successful later on in life.

June 21 - June 21