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Ferdinand’s Ball Gala Returns April 30, Announces New Partnership

This year’s premier Derby kickoff event will serve as a joint fundraiser for the Muhammad Ali Center and Old Friends Equine Retirement Facility.

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (March 13, 2015)… The sixth annual Ferdinand’s Ball gala will kick off the Derby party season this year on Thursday, April 30. For the first time, Ferdinand’s Ball will serve as a joint fundraiser for the gala’s venue, the Muhammad Ali Center, and Old Friends Equine Retirement Facility. This is the event’s third year at the Ali Center and the sixth year supporting Old Friends.

The Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St., is a multicultural center with an award-winning museum experience that is dedicated to the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. Old Friends is a nonprofit Georgetown, Ky., facility that rescues retired racehorses from neglect, abuse, and slaughter, offering them a peaceful final chapter to their lives while educating the public about their remarkable stories. A portion of the proceeds from the 2015 Ferdinand’s Ball will go to the Ali Center, with the majority going to Old Friends.

New this year, the red carpet, semi-formal gala will begin with an exclusive VIP dinner at 7 p.m. Guests will enjoy a gourmet meal with celebrities, community leaders and select media, catered by Masterson’s. This portion of the event will also feature a silent auction, open bar, and live entertainment by the Louisville-based, all-female folk trio, Southern Sirens. VIP tickets also include access to the After Party —“Party for the People”— which begins at 9 p.m. and includes an open bar, dessert by Spotz Gelato, entertainment/dancing by DJ Q, the “strolling magic” of nationally recognized magician Richard Darshwood, photos with Magnolia Photo Booth and more.

Ferdinand’s Ball was founded by sisters and community volunteers Kim Boyle and Aimee Boyle Wulfeck, in honor of Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby Winner and 1987 Horse of the Year. After making millions in the races, Ferdinand was sent to stud in Japan and, following his stud career, ended up in a slaughterhouse, which spurred an international outcry.

“Ferdinand’s Ball has been proud supporters of Old Friends for the past six years,” said Kim Boyle, owner of Barkstown Road in the Highlands. “This year, we are excited to expand our event to also raise money for the Muhammad Ali Center. The Center has been such a great venue for us. We felt it was time for us to strengthen our partnership and throw some of our support behind this amazing asset to Louisville.”

“Having the opportunity to be part of a Derby event that raises funds for a compassionate cause is very gratifying,” said Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center. “All athletes, no matter the sport, deserve to live out their lives with respect. We also feel fortunate to be partnering on Ferdinand’s Ball because the event is affordable for young people, who can come out, have a great time, and support two great charitable organizations.”

Ferdinand’s Ball draws 600 guests and garners support from celebrities, notable sports figures and local legislators as well as local and national news media. Past hosts have included Peyton Siva, point guard for the 2013 University of Louisville championship team, and Hollywood’s Maria Menounos, Kate Upton and Brandi Glanville. This year, celebrities and special guests will include recording artists, actors, locally and nationally recognized NBA and former NCAA basketball players, along with other professional athletes, Derby and Oaks-winning jockeys and horse owners, and local and national sports media personalities. The full guest list will be announced soon!

A limited number of tickets will be sold for the exclusive VIP dinner hour with full access to the After Party at a cost of $500. Individual tickets for the “Party for the People” are only $150. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit

Ferdinand’s Ball tickets are also offered as part of an elite Prime Sport Derby package,

About Ferdinand’s Ball:

Ferdinand’s Ball is an annual fundraiser created in honor of Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner sent to slaughter in Japan after making millions while racing and becoming horse of the year. This elegant red carpet gala held in Ferdinand’s honor raises awareness and funds so that legacies like Ferdinand can retire in peace and with dignity on a beautiful farm in Georgetown, Ky. Ferdinand’s Ball’s mission is to prevent horses from facing a similar fate and giving them the second chance that Ferdinand never had. This Derby weekend kick-off event was voted by Leo Weekly’s readers as one of Louisville’s best nonprofits in 2012, and the Courier-Journal dubbed it “unpretentiously elegant.” It is the only Derby event that’s all about the horses! For more, visit

About Old Friends Equine Retirement Facility:

Located on a 52-acre farm in Georgetown, Ky., Old Friends Equine Retirement Facility retires thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end, giving them a chance that Ferdinand never had. Old Friends has brought numerous horses home from Japan, at a cost of at least $65,000 each time. Currently, more than100 legendary horses roam comfortably at Old Friends, and more than 20,000 visitors a year get to meet and interact with them, while learning the stories of their wins, their neglect, abuse and near-death experiences, and miraculous rescues. For more information about Old Friends, please visit



Amy Higgs
Media Consultant

Jeanie Kahnke
Muhammad Ali Center


The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was co-founded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the six core principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, gender equity, and global citizenship. Its newest initiative, Generation Ali, fosters a new generation of leaders to contribute positively to their communities and to change the world for the better. The Center’s headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit