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Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Churchill Downs released the official event logos for Kentucky Derby 139 and Kentucky Oaks 139. Both logos were designed by SME for the fifth consecutive year. SME explored a contemporary vision for the design of the 2013 event marks with the bold use of negative space creating a lighter, less traditional feel than previous iterations.

Each logo harnesses a palate reflective of spring 2013 color forecasts to ensure that the seasonality of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks is echoed within the overall composition. The official colors for Kentucky Derby 139 are blue and yellow. As usual, the official color for Kentucky Oaks 139 is pink (magenta) and its logo companion color is green.

“Our valued partnership with Churchill Downs has seen SME develop the official event marks for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks since 2009,” said Edward O’Hara, chief creative officer and senior partner of New York-based SME. “Both the Derby and Oaks with their rich history truly transcend the sport of horse racing and today represent icons in America’s social and cultural calendar. At SME we strive to protect this cultural heritage while continuing to point each brand towards the future.”


Official event logo for Kentucky Derby 139


Here are some images and quotes from the SME Case Study:

KD1_0-1.jpegImage Source: SME Case Study

Now entering SME’s fifth year of partnership with Churchill Downs and the “Best Two Minutes in Sports,” we had the unique opportunity to express the storied tradition of the famous Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks with a vibrant, contemporary design vision for the events’ 139th year. The thrill of horseracing’s biggest events is harnessed with bold color and iconography, showcasing a power and passion known to race-goers worldwide.

KD2.jpegImage Source: SME Case Study

Inspired by the forward stretch of a horse striving for the finish line, the new Kentucky Derby 139 mark seeks to encompass the excitement and bated breath of those last few seconds.

KO.jpegImage Source: SME Case Study

The timeless and iconic stargazer lilly is featured in Kentucky Oaks’ new 139 mark, adding a finesse of femininity to the classic filly competition’s ever-evolving brand.

KD3_0.jpegImage Source: SME Case Study

KD4_0.jpegImage Source: SME Case Study

Official event logo for Kentucky Oaks 139


The Kentucky Derby 139 logo features the ‘KD’ initials as the primary graphic element with a single Thoroughbred sweeping through the middle, symbolizing a leader emerging from the track. “We viewed the Kentucky Derby 139 logo as an opportunity to break slightly from tradition as it is the first time that the ‘KD’ initials have been used as a primary graphic element,” O’Hara said. “By doing so, Churchill Downs can further build upon the Derby brand and take ownership of its very merchandisable initials in a new way.”

2b-kentucky-derby.jpegHere’s an awesome minimal flyer from the 1947 derby. I love how the calligraphic “and” and “the” add so much class and balance. Image

The Kentucky Oaks 139 logo highlights the iconic stargazer lily while conveying the light and airy qualities of the negative space within the Oaks mark. Both logos also showcase the Derby and Oaks “icon” marks – golden horseshoes with a red rose for Derby and a pink stargazer lily for Oaks – embedded within the overall logo design. For the fourth consecutive year, Churchill Downs has again incorporated a secondary set of marks for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks to be applied across a variety of merchandise and licensing opportunities. The secondary suites stay true to both the font and color palette of the primary logos to retain their overall design integrity while incorporating the Twin Spires icon to ensure a unique secondary direction for the brand.




Official licensed apparel and headwear featuring the new marks are now available for purchase. T-shirts and headwear are now available for purchase. Other collectables, additional apparel and gift items, including the popular collectible Kentucky Derby mint julep glassware, are scheduled for release later this fall prior to the holiday season.

Press Release