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COUNTRY STAR JO DEE MESSINA TO SING NATIONAL ANTHEM AT 140th KENTUCKY DERBY

Churchill Downs Communications | 04/26/2014 #
  • Kentucky Derby 140 national anthem singer Jo Dee Messina

LOUISVILLE, KY (Friday, April 25, 2014) –  Multiplatinum and award-winning country music singer and songwriter Jo Dee Messina will perform the national anthem prior to the 140thrunning of the Kentucky Derby® Presented by YUM! Brands® (Grade 1) at historic Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) on Saturday, May 3.  

Her dramatic solo performance will take place on the presentation stand in the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle just after 5:00 PM EDT and will be carried live on NBC Sports as part of the network’s national Kentucky Derby coverage. 

 “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Jo Dee Messina to Churchill Downs and to the impressive roster of artists who have performed the national anthem at the Kentucky Derby,” said Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery.  “The Kentucky Derby is a celebration that combines fun, fashion, celebrity and tradition, and the recent addition of this performance is an important new tradition that has quickly become a prominent and very popular part of the day.  It is a bonus that we have Jo Dee Messina in the spotlight for Derby 140, as she is both an accomplished artist and a tremendous fan of Thoroughbred racing and the Kentucky Derby.”

Messina, who will attend the Kentucky Derby for a second consecutive year, is only the sixth artist to perform the national anthem since Churchill Downs began the tradition in 2009.  Last year, more than 16 million viewers watched country music superstar Martina McBride perform the “Star Spangled Banner” before an on-track crowd of over 150,000 fans.  Other notable artists who have performed the national anthem at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May include Mary J. Blige (2012), Jordin Sparks (2011), Rascal Flatts (2010) and Lee Ann Rimes (2009).   

“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend my first Derby last year,” Messina said.  “The national anthem has always held a very special meaning for me and to be able to return this year and sing it at such a historic venue as Churchill Downs is an extreme honor and will be a memory that I will for cherish the rest of my life.” 

Currently on a national concert tour following the release last month of her new album entitled “Me,” Messina has been a fixture among country music’s elite since 1996 when she released her first self-titled album that included two hit singles, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” and"You're Not in Kansas Anymore."  Her second album featured three #1 hit singles and sold over 2 million copies in the U.S.  Since then, she has released a total of six albums, charted nine #1 country singles, sold over five million records, has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and received numerous awards and accolades from the Country Music Association and Academy of  Country Music.  

Messina’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” will be the second of the day.  The 113thArmy Band from Fort Knox will play the national anthem between races seven and eight.  NBC’s network live coverage of the 2014 Kentucky Derby begins at 4:00 and runs through 7:00 PM EDT, with a Derby recap show from 7:00 to 7:30 PM EDT on NBCSN.

About Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014. The 2014 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs is scheduled forApril 26-June 29. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times.