Churchill Downs Racetrack has presented checks totaling nearly $200,000 to fundraising partners who joined the track in the celebrations of its 138th running of the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 4 and the third annual “Taste of Derby” party on Thursday, May 3.

Donation checks were presented to representatives of Stand Up to Cancer (“SU2C”), Horses and Hope and Blessings in a Backpack in a winner’s circle ceremony on Saturday, June 30 during the historic track’s final “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program.

The largest check of $112,552 was presented to Stand Up to Cancer, which joined Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Oaks for the first time as a fundraising partner as the event continued its “Ladies First” theme and its focus on women’s health issues.  SU2C received $1 for every person who passed through the admission gates for the Kentucky Oaks, which attracted a crowd of 112,552 – the third-largest attendance figure in the history of America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies.

With the 2012 donation to SU2C, Churchill Downs has donated more than $532,000 to cancer research through its women’s health Kentucky Oaks partnerships over the past four years.

Accepting the donation to Stand Up to Cancer was Ingrid A. Mayer, MD, the Director of Clinical Care for the Breast Cancer Program at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University.  Dr. Mayer is a member of SU2C’s “Dream Team” of cancer researchers.

The Stand Up To Cancer initiative raises funds to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research that will deliver new therapies to patients quickly and save lives through a collaborative effort throughout the cancer research community. The organization’s goal in accelerating cancer research is to help transform the disease from one that takes far too many lives to a disease that people survive.  Information is available online at

A donation of $30,000 was presented to Horses & Hope, the initiative launched in 2008 by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear that provides breast cancer education, outreach and screenings to workers at racetracks and farms in Kentucky’s horse industry.  The track donated $1 to Horses & Hope from the on-track sale of each Oaks Lily, the signature drink of the Kentucky Oaks.  With this year’s donation, Churchill Downs has donated $120,000 to Horses & Hope over the past four years.

The check for the $30,000 donation to Horses & Hope was accepted by Connie Sorrell, Director of the Kentucky Cancer Program, and Patricia “P.J.” Cooksey and Mary Midkiff, who are members of the First Lady’s Horses & Hope “Pink Team.” Cooksey, a breast cancer survivor, is the all-time leading female rider at Churchill Downs.  More information on Horses & Hope can be found on the Web at

Blessings in a Backpack, a first-time fundraising partner with the annual Kentucky Derby Week  “Taste of Derby” party, was presented with a donation of $42,255. “Taste of Derby” became a part of Kentucky Derby tradition with its debut in 2010 and this year attracted approximately 1,000 fans to its 2012 renewal at the Louisville Executive Aviation Hangar at Bowman Field.  The event brings acclaimed chefs and racing celebrities from horse racing destination cities across the nation for a celebration of the food, music, fashion, celebrity and fun that are key parts of the Kentucky Derby experience.

Blessings in a Backpack, which was founded in Louisville, has grown rapidly into a national organization committed to “Feeding the Future of America.” The organization works with partners around the country to ensure impoverished elementary school students are fed during weekends throughout the school year.  Information on Blessings in a Backpack is available at the organization’s Web site at  The donation for Blessings in a Backpack was accepted by Nikki Grizzle, the organization’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations.

With the check presented to Blessings in a Backpack, “Taste of Derby” has donated more than $163,000 to organizations that combat hunger over its three-year history.

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