TONYA YORK DEES & TAMMY YORK DAY: After working for years on Derby galas and looking to attract sponsors and celebrities to Derby, Tonya and Barry (Wooley) had the idea to bring the Derby to them, or at least wet their appetite about it. We know that as an experience, the Kentucky Derby is special, but there are many who don’t understand what it is about, and it is easier to get them to come to an L.A. party than commit to coming to Kentucky right off the bat. They hosted the first event in L.A. six years ago in the summer, and it turned out great! Two years later, we decided to start it up again. Viola – here we are now doing our fifth L.A. event!
KOMMOR: Speaking from experience, I know that sponsors play a pivotal role in any event. How are your sponsors crucial to the success of the Derby Prelude Party?
DEES & DAY: Without our fabulous sponsors, none of it would be possible! We are fortunate to be able to work with innovative, successful sponsor companies that are the top in their industry. Companies such as Humana Vitality, Southern Wine and Spirits, Pacific Wine and Spirits and Delta Dental of Kentucky. All of them also support Unbridled Eve, our Derby Eve gala.
KOMMOR: Most people would find organizing an event of this magnitude challenging at a local level. How do you and Tammy execute your event on the West Coast?
DEES & DAY: It takes a village! Ha! We are there quite a bit, it’s our second home city and we truly love L.A.! We are blessed to work with an amazing group of people both in Kentucky and in Los Angeles, many of whom have become close friends as well. They are motivated and passionate about the Derby, the charities we promote and support, and have a deep understanding of what we are all trying to accomplish. And like the Galt House in Louisville for Derby Eve, the London West Hollywood has been a great partner and venue.
KOMMOR: With any major event comes a red carpet. Who are some of the past and present celebrities that have adorned yours?
DEES & DAY: For the L.A. party: Jennifer Lawrence (celebrity host), poker legend Phil Hellmuth (celebrity host), Hilary Duff, Bob Guiney, Kevin Sorbo, The “Beav” and the Six-Million Dollar Man, Laker A.C. Green, Warren Moon, Brandon Lloyd (of the New England Patriots), Kathy Joosten (now deceased) and Neal McDonough from Desperate Housewives. (The party has also drawn) Comedian Ron White and billionaire John Paul Dejoria, (who is) owner of Patron tequila and Paul Mitchell hair care. For fans of the TV Show “24” – we loved having three former Presidents and an Ambassador as attendees! Local notables have included Steve Wilson, Craig Greenberg, Jonathan Blue (who brought coach Avery Johnson of the N.Y. Jets), Kevin Harned, Larry Sinclair, Tim Corrigan and Ali Navigar.
This year, Kentucky native and actor/singer Keith Robinson of “Dreamgirls” will be there to sing “My Old Kentucky Home.” Last year Brandon Jenner and his wife Leah Felder did the honors. We also expect to see Natalie Cole; Patrick Dempsey; Jamie Pressly; Amy Brenneman; Geoff Stults and Quinton Aaron; race car driver Oriol Servia; Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett; The CEO, COO and VPs from Breeders’ Cup; Jockeys Gary Stevens, Victor Espinoza, Julien Leparoux and Mario Gutierrez, who won the Derby last year; and many more! Probably an additional 60 or more celebrities.
In Louisville for Unbridled Eve, we had Ice T and Coco; Kate Flannery and Oscar Nunez from The Office; Randy Owen; and Alabama.
KOMMOR: For someone interested in supporting the event and traveling to L.A., what’s the best way to inquire about the details?
DEES & DAY: For information about the 2014 Derby Prelude Party in West Hollywood, contact Angela@derbyprelude.com, and to see photos from our 2013 party, go to www.derbyprelude.com or “like” us on Facebook. For information on Unbridled Eve, go to www.unbridledeve.com or call 502.894.9768.