LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Derby will get an additional
splash of pageantry when Queen Elizabeth II makes her first visit
to Churchill Downs for this year's race.
The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are planning to attend
the Derby on May 5, Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday. The visit
is part of a six-day trip to the U.S. from May 3 through May 8 that
will include stops in Jamestown, Va., and Washington, D.C.
"We're really looking forward to it," Churchill Downs
spokesman John Asher said. "It's going to be a wonderfully
historic day, given the history of the Kentucky Derby owes so much
to racing in England."
The queen has visited Kentucky four times - in 1984, 1986, 1989
and 1991 - but has never been to Louisville.
"We're excited to host the queen for the signature event in the
sport of kings," Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said. "The
Kentucky Derby puts Louisville in the world's spotlight, and we are
looking forward to showcasing our city to the queen."
The queen has stabled horses at Kentucky farms in the past and
spent time at Lane's End Farm, owned by Will Farish, former U.S.
ambassador to England. A Lane's End spokesman referred all
questions about the queen's visit to Buckingham Palace.
British royalty has attended the Derby in the past: Princess
Margaret, sister of the queen, attended the 1974 Derby with her
husband, Lord Snowdon.
The queen may not be the only foreign dignitary to attend the
Derby this year. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia, may
also be attending.
Kentucky has been visited by royalty in recent years. Great
Britain's Princess Anne visited Lexington in 2003 for the opening
of the Kentucky Horse Park's exhibit "All the Queen's Horses: The
Role of the Horse in British History."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)