It’s the Kentucky Derby party with a heart.
Silks in the Bluegrass, celebrating its 10th anniversary benefitting Operation Open Arms, continues to evolve in 2018, rebranding its popular after-party as the Silks Derby Eve Bash, launching a new Derby cocktail, the Silks Smash, and moving the event to historic Locust Grove in Louisville.
Operation Open Arms is a nonprofit organization committed to taking care of children of mothers who are incarcerated. Tickets for the Silks Bash on Friday, May 4 are $75 for the charity’s largest annual fundraising event.
“This promises to be a magical evening,” says Cathy Bailey, co-founder of Operation Open Arms. “Silks is an energy-packed evening where guests can sample some of the Bluegrass’s finest bourbons, plus enjoy cigar rolling and the best dance band of Derby weekend.”
Bailey and her husband, Irv, founded Operation Open Arms in 2001, inspired by one of their Derby guests the year prior, a U.S. Justice Department official who expressed concern about the rising number of children whose mothers were behind bars.
Even while Silks organizers have been preparing for the event, the children who have found homes thanks to the program have been treated to unique Derby experiences, including pony rides at Stone Place Stables in Prospect and heart-warming visits at Churchill Downs with trainers Todd Pletcher and Dale Romans, jockey Robby Albarado and Romans’ Kentucky Oaks contender Coach Rocks, the filly owned in part by former University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.
For many of the children, these were their first experiences around horses and horse racing. They peppered Romans with questions about the filly and his job. Pletcher treated the Operation Open Arms foster families to breakfast.
Silks in the Bluegrass was launched in 2009 and has continued to grow each year. Also new in 2018 is the “flavor wheel” by Louisville distiller Brown-Forman, and a new sponsorship by Schlafly Beer, which features among its brews Kentucky Mule Ale, a blend of classic cocktail and beer.
The dinner also includes the presentation of the Operation Open Arms Hero Award to Vice Admiral Joseph Maguire, a beloved figure among U.S. Navy Seals, former leader of several U.S. Navy commands and now the President and CEO of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which provides scholarship grants and educational counseling to the children of fallen special operations troops as well as immediate financial assistance to severely wounded warriors and their families.
“This mission resonates strongly with Operation Open Arms,” Bailey says. “Both organizations care about children and about what happens to them when they no longer have the presence and support of a beloved parent.”