The Kentucky Derby is certainly a Who’s Who for the horse racing world, but the fame of the race is such that celebrities of the uniquely human variety also enjoy the festivities.
Early in the race’s history, those celebrities tended to be members of the aristocracy; in the nineteenth century, having leisure time to watch a day’s worth of sporting events was a luxury only the richest could afford. However, as time went on, the Kentucky Derby became a party that welcomed all comers.
As the crowds grew, celebrities who wanted to give a special performance or even simply be seen by a great multitude of people came to flock to the Kentucky Derby. Performers, athletes, politicians, and even a reigning British monarch have all ventured to Louisville for America’s longest continually-run sporting event.
Indeed, the Derby now hosts many events besides the Greatest Two Minutes In Sports. There are many charity events, high society parties, and red carpets rolling during Derby week, and if the celebrities that appear can place a bet without looking foolish, so much the better. Celebs are welcomed to try to guess the Kentucky Derby results and prices by TwinSpires, making their picks before the race to increase the hype.
Some, as you will read below, have even greater roles to play within the sport itself.
Celebrities at The Kentucky Derby
Here are some celebrities that you might see at the Kentucky Derby, whether smiling for the camera or strolling down to the betting window.
A true superstar in the music industry, Jason Aldean proudly walked the red carpet at the 2022 Kentucky Derby. The singer is known for such hits as “Big Green Tractor” and “Dirt Road Anthem,” and has been a mainstay in the country music scene since 2008. He is the sixth recipient of the ACM Artist of the Decade Award, which he received in 2019 to reflect his constant presence in the country music charts since his career began, and is an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness and research.
Mario Lopez is an actor and television host who was spotted at the Kentucky Derby in 2022. Most noted for his longtime role as A.J. Slater on the television show Saved By The Bell, Lopez has also made a name for himself as a host of Access Hollywood and has hosted several editions of the Miss America pageant. He has also performed in A Chorus Line on Broadway and holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Former pop sensation Joey Fatone, best known for being a part of the 90s boy band *NSYNC, is a fixture at the Kentucky Derby festivities. In addition to his pop music success, Fatone has amassed quite a lot of Broadway credits on his resume, performing in Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, 42nd Street, and Rock of Ages. He has also hosted a number of game shows, such as The Singing Bee, Common Knowledge, and Family Feud.
This chart-topping rapper happens to be a native of Louisville, Kentucky, the host city of the Kentucky Derby. The artist, known for hits such as “Whats Poppin” and “Industry Baby,” is heavily invested in his home community. He frequently donates to Louisville-based charities, raising money for those impacted by local issues, including the fight for justice for Breonna Taylor. In 2022, he was given the honor of announcing the call for “Riders Up” at the Kentucky Derby.
Not only did this country music superstar make an appearance at the 2022 Kentucky Derby- she took center stage and sang the National Anthem. The singer-songwriter, who is most known for her hit single “Sober and Skinny,” has opened for Brett Elderege and Reba McEntire. She also performed at the Preakness Live event in her native Baltimore, Maryland, and plans to further continue her brand.
The famed Iron Chef is not merely a spectator at the races; he actually has a thriving racing stable of his own. Although he has never raced a horse in the Kentucky Derby itself, his most successful racehorses include Grade I winners Her Smile and Dame Dorothy, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winners More Than Real and Pizza Bianca. He also owned Creator, winner of the 2016 Belmont Stakes, in a partnership with WinStar Farm.