LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Derby was about everything
but the race Friday night.
Celebrities of all types came out to party on Derby eve, putting
the spotlight on Louisville the night before the world's best known
"I come for the food. I come for the parties. I come to meet
people from all over, from sports to politics to Hollywood," said
model-actress Molly Sims, who is from Murray, Ky. "The Derby is
more than just a race."
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his three Playmate girlfriends -
Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson - headlined a
cast of stars Friday night at the Barnstable Brown Gala, one of the
biggest parties in a week filled with festivities.
"I like Big Brown," Hefner said, referring to the 3-1 morning
line favorite. "I know a good thoroughbred when I see one."
Fans camped out early and were pinned behind metal barricades at
the edge of the mansion's swaying green, waiting through heavy
rains and thunderstorms to get a glimpse of their favorite
celebrities. About 100 people stood soaked as the celebrities began
showing up around 8:30 p.m. EDT, their camera flashes illuminating
Others on the guest list included Chelsea Clinton, daughter of
former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential hopeful
Hillary Clinton; actor Edward Norton; Fox News Channel host Bill
O'Reilly; and Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens.
"It's definitely a different mix of people than we see in
Hollywood," said Hefner's girlfriend Bridget. "That's what makes
the Derby unique."
Carson Daly, host of NBC's late-night show "Last Call With
Carson Daly," brought his mother to the Derby as a gift to her -
and to help with betting.
"I'll sit there and crunch the numbers on all the horses, and
she'll be giving me advice," Daly said. "She picks them based on
looks and stuff, but she wins."
Louisville native Larry Birkhead, ex-boyfriend of the late Anna
Nicole Smith, also was at the party, the same event where he and
Smith met in 2004.
Birkhead said he bought a new house in Louisville this week but
didn't plan on picking a horse.
"I don't bet that much, and I really wouldn't know who I was
betting on anyways," he said.
Patricia Barnstable Brown and sister Priscilla Barnstable - the
former Doublemint Twins - were co-hosting the party for the 20th
year to raise funds for diabetes research at the University of
Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
Brown's late husband, David E. Brown, was the inspiration behind
the gala. After a long battle with diabetes, he died in July 2003.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
In Central Kentucky, the Derby Ball at Donamire Farms brought out hundreds of people ready to dance the night away for a good cause. All proceeds will go to the Lexington Cancer Foundation.
The fourth annual Evening of Champions raised money for the Makenna Foundation at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown. The theme this year was "Midnight At The Oasis."
The Poor Mans' Party was held on North Broadway as well. This was the 36th year for the event which honored Mr. Wildcat Bill Keightly.