Derby-goers looking for the hottest parties leading up to the Run for the Roses should consider the sixth annual Ferdinand’s Ball gala, which kicks off the Derby party season on Thursday, April 30. What differentiates this event from others is that most of the proceeds go primarily toward the horses themselves; Ferdinand’s Ball serves as a fundraiser for Old Friends Equine Retirement Facility. For the first time, this year a small portion of funds raised will also go to the Muhammad Ali Center, which is a proud partner for this year’s gala that showcases sporting “greats” and highlights a compassionate cause.
The Ali Center in downtown Louisville is a multicultural center with an award-winning museum experience that is dedicated to the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. Old Friends is a nonprofit Georgetown, Ky., facility that rescues retired racehorses from neglect, abuse and slaughter, offering them a peaceful final chapter to their lives while educating the public about their remarkable stories.
Complete with red carpet, an exclusive VIP gourmet dinner with celebrities, community leaders, and select media, this year’s event also includes a silent auction, an open bar provided by Red Stripe, Guinness Blonde American Lager, Chateau La Paws wine, Ketel One vodka and Bulleit Bourbon, as well as live entertainment by the Louisville-based, all-female folk trio, the Southern Sirens. VIP tickets also include access to the After Party —“Party for the People”— which begins at 9 p.m. and includes an open bar, dessert by Spotz Gelato, entertainment/dancing by DJ Q, the “strolling magic” of nationally recognized magician Richard Darshwood, photos with Magnolia Photo Booth and more. After Party tickets are also sold separately on the Ferdinand’s Ball website, www.ferdinandsball.com. Event sponsors include nFocus magazine, Pure Romance, Xpressbet and The Event Co., which will infuse the Ali Center with the Derby spirit through “stable chic” décor.
Ferdinand’s Ball was founded by sisters and community volunteers Kim Boyle and Aimee Boyle Wulfeck, in honor of Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby Winner and 1987 Horse of the Year. After making millions in the races, Ferdinand was sent to stud in Japan and, following his stud career, ended up in a slaughterhouse, which spurred an international outcry.
Ferdinand’s Ball draws 600 guests and garners support from celebrities, notable sports figures and local legislators as well as local and national news media. Past hosts have included Peyton Siva, point guard for the 2013 University of Louisville championship team, and Hollywood’s Maria Menounos, Kate Upton and Brandi Glanville. This year, celebrities and special guests will include recording artists, actors, locally and nationally recognized NBA and former NCAA basketball players, along with other professional athletes, Derby and Oaks-winning jockeys and horse owners, and local and national sports media personalities.
A limited number of tickets will be sold for the exclusive VIP dinner hour with full access to the After Party at a cost of $500. Individual tickets for the “Party for the People” are only $150.