© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oaks Day 2024: Sights from the racetrack

Published May 3, 2024 at 2:57 PM EDT
Gregorio Banuelos a.k.a "Mexican Elvis"
Justin Hicks
Gregorio Baneulos refers to himself as "Mexican Elvis" for his outfit for Oaks.

Crowds are filing into Churchill Downs for the 150th Oaks Day. LPM News reporters and editors are on site to bring you the latest from the track.

It’s an overcast, wet Friday as thousands of people fill Churchill Downs. A slight drizzle, thick humidity and rain ponchos aren’t stopping visitors from wearing their best shades of pink.

One of the visitors embracing the bright, spring-colored theme of Oaks Day was Allison, a Lexington native. She says Oaks is her favorite day of Derby week to attend with her friends.

A group of fans at the 2024 Kentucky Oaks
Giselle Rhoden
Allison (middle) is originally from Lexington and said she's excited to place her bets and have good drinks with friends.

“I think girls [and I] like to come to Oaks because of all the pink and all the good fashion,” she said. “I feel like the vibe is better for Oaks and it's more fun with the pink.”

Some eventgoers, like Gregorio Banuelos, are straying away from the pinks. Banuelos came to the track as a self-proclaimed “Mexican Elvis,” wearing all white with gold accents.

Rain ponchos covering a woman's head at the 2024 Kentucky Oaks
Justin Hicks
Several visitors to the 2024 Kentucky Oaks covered their hats and outfits with rain ponchos as the rainy weather covers Louisville.

For some, today is their first time at Oaks.

Eric Foster has been a jockey for 13 years. He’ll be competing with Everland in the Oaks race starting at 5:51 p.m. The three-year-old filly had 39-1 odds Friday afternoon ahead of the race.

Foster brought his wife Sarah and their son Lucas from southern California to watch.

Jockey Eric Foster, his wife Sarah and their son Lucas.
Giselle Rhoden
It's the Fosters' first time at Oaks. Sarah said "I didn't realize [Oaks] was so big like you see everything and it's basically another Kentucky Derby."

“I love what I do and I love these horses,” Foster said. “It feels amazing.”

More from Oaks Day 2024

Posted May 3, 2024 at 6:22 PM EDT

Many of the people attending the Kentucky Oaks are visiting Louisville from elsewhere.

Terry Speigner came from Mitchellville, Maryland, to see which filly will make history Friday. Terry said he purchased a season ticket to Churchill Downs to celebrate the 150th Derby weekend.

“[Kentucky] brings a whole new spirit to the Triple Crown,” he said. “It sets the pace for the other races. I've attended the Preakness for years. I've attended the Belmont, but there's nothing like Oaks and Derby.”

For the locals at the track, attending Oaks is sometimes part of generations-old traditions. Louisville native PJ Kasidiaris attended Oaks and Derby with his late father for 20 years.

“My dad loved the horse racing,” he said.

Kasidiaris is one of hundreds of people betting on fillies running in 13 different races Friday. He said he hasn’t done well with his wagers so far, but “there’s always the next race.”

Tim Wies, a friend of Kasidiaris and a fellow Louisvillian, said betting is all about strategy.

“I look for long-shot, sleeper horses that run good,” Wies said. “It's muddy. So you might as well take some of those long shots.”

Although betting can be stressful, Wies said it’s part of the atmosphere at Churchill Down during Derby weekend.

PJ Kasidiaris (middle) and Tim Wies (far right) at the 2024 Kentucky Oaks
Giselle Rhoden
PJ Kasidiaris and Tim Wies are locals and have been coming to Derby for decades.

“It feels like you're home ... you feel comfortable. You're relaxed here,” he said. “And no matter if you win or lose, you come out a winner when you're here.”

A photo of Terry Speigner and an attendee misidentified as his wife was removed from this story. We apologize for the error.