The Kentucky Derby has longstanding traditions and new attractions, and both were in play Friday night in Louisville.
The annual Barnstable-Brown Gala welcomed new guests such as The Voice winner Jordan Smith, longstanding friends such as Travis Tritt – who stars of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules were really excited to see – to recent adherants such as Olympians and NBC hosts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski.
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Lipinski compared Louisville to Olympic host cities saying, “Louisville really turns out for Derby. You get to the hotel and it’s like a party.”
21c Museum Hotel owner Steve Wilson said he “had some tricks up his sleeve” but the biggest surprise for the hotel’s Vanity Fair-sponsored Hermitage Derby Toast may be the lack of star wattage.
There were some big names, like actor Bill Paxton and Adrian Grenier of “Entourage” fame. But the vibe of the party was low key and full of locals.
One Louisville native whose star is on the rise 'Orange is the New Black' actress Emily Aulthaus said growing up she never did “Derby proper.”
“This is a fun time, I have an excuse to do the party,” she said.
Legendary trainer Bob Baffert made a rare appearance at the insistence of wife Jill Baffert. Coming off the heels of their Triple Crown win, the pair said they were trying to have a “chill” time.
“We always have the Derby experience but we never really have the Louisville experience,” she said. “We’ve never really done the Kentucky experience before.”