Roses are the Official Flower of the Track
In the 2008 pre-race ceremony, crew members and Mdr. Benjamin Pearson, commanding officer of the ballistic missile submarine USS Kentucky, walked this wreath of roses to the track. The Derby is frequently referred to as "The Run for the Roses." The tradition of roses allegedly originated in 1883 when a New York socialite presented roses to female guests at a post-Derby party attended by the founder of Churchill Downs.
Photo courtesy of Marion Doss