Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Miss Kentucky and more show up at Kentucky Derby 2021

tom-brady,-aaron-rodgers,-miss-kentucky-and-more-show-up-at-kentucky-derby-2021

From British Royalty and U.S. presidents to Super Bowl Champions and even a notorious train robber, since the late 1800s, celebrities from around the world have made their way to Churchill Downs to be part of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

In 2021 amid the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic, the star power wasn’t quite as bright as it has been in past years, but the historic race track still attracted some sparkle. 

With no celebrity charity galas on Derby Eve to attend and no red carpet entrance for VIP attendees and their guests at the track, it took some hunting and pecking to find famous faces at the 147th Kentucky Derby, but they were there.   

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The Courier Journal’s Kirby Adams and Kathryn Gregory walk you through everything you need to know about the Kentucky Derby.

Jeff Faughender, Kathryn Gregory, Kirby Adams and Alton Strupp, Louisville Courier Journal

Some of the famous Kentucky Derby celebrity fans who made the trip included Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Both Super Bowl champions make Kentucky Derby weekend a regular guys’ weekend tradition.  

Mike Mills of the band R.E.M., Rob Angel, the creator of Pictionary, and Bob Gurney, from The Bachelor, also made their way to Millionaires Row where they spent the day with Louisville sisters Tonya York Dee and Tammy York Day.

“This is my 17th year to attend the Kentucky Derby, and it’s extra special for me this year,” Gurney told The Courier Journal. “It’s my 50th birthday, and it’s a beautiful day to celebrate with these friends that I’ve made over the years at the Derby. It’s the best.” 

Grammy-nominated rapper and Atherton High School graduate Jack Harlow was in the Paddock to call “Riders Up” on Derby day. A true Kentucky native through and through, Harlow was also at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.  

Kentucky Derby celebrities: Tom Brady spotted at 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Also attending on Friday were Larry Birkhead and his daughter Dannielynn. The duo traditionally wears coordinated outfits to the races, but not in 2021.

The 14-year-old is the daughter of the late supermodel Anna Nicole Smith and Birkhead. 

“It was Dannielynn’s first Kentucky Oaks, and she wanted a more grown-up look,” said Birkhead. “We had a wonderful laid-back day on Friday at Churchill Downs.” 

Miss Kentucky USA Alex Franke echoed the feeling of most race fans who had not had a reason to wear anything other than sweatpants during the pandemic. Dressed in a stunning red lace dress and wide brim hat, Franke said she was thrilled to have a good reason to dress up and wear something other than yoga pants.  

Near the Paddock, we bumped into former University of Kentucky and current NFL wide receiver Randall Cobb plus former University of Louisville player and current New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch.

Grammy winner Tori Kelly was also in attendance at Churchill Downs Saturday. The gospel singer performed the National Anthem before the 147th Kentucky Derby. 

And even though he had a horse about to race in the Run for the Roses, trainer Bob Baffert took time to pose with the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Royal Court. 

Reach Kirby Adams at kadams@courier-journal.com.

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