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Longines to sponsor Kentucky Oaks, Pink Out fashion contest

A spectator shows off her Derby hat before the 137th Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2011, in Louisville, Ky.
A spectator shows off her Derby hat before the 137th Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2011, in Louisville, Ky.

This year's race for the lilies, the female equivalent to the Run for the Roses, will be known as the Longines Kentucky Oaks.

Churchill Downs Inc. announced Monday that Swiss watchmaker Longines, already the official timekeeper of Churchill Downs racetrack, has entered a five-year sponsorship agreement that extends its existing partnership to the $1 million Oaks.

No financial details of the deal were released.

Longines also will host events surrounding the Oaks on Friday, including the Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest and the Winner's Party, and the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (a race for female horses) on Derby Day. In 2012, 112,552 people attended the races on Friday, which is an unofficial holiday in Louisville, with schools and many businesses closed.

"Our passion at Longines is equestrian sport, so we are delighted to return for a third year as the official watch and timekeeper of the Kentucky Derby and to expand our partnership to include the Longines Kentucky Oaks," Longines president Walter von Kanel said in the news release. "This partnership embodies the Longines brand image and philosophy stated in its slogan, 'Elegance is an attitude.'"

Longines will award a diamond-studded watch to the winner of the Oaks fashion contest on "Pink Out!" day, when survivors of breast cancer are honored and attendees are encouraged to wear all pink to the track.

"Longines Kentucky Oaks Day is all about the ladies," Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said. "Our female fans continue to respond favorably to the new traditions of fashion and fun that we have been bringing them over these last few years, and we feel that the elegant Longines brand is a natural fit for the feminine spirit of the Longines Kentucky Oaks."

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