The horsey set's annual rite of spring brings royalty and ribaldry to Louisville

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 04, 2007 04:45 PM

The horsey set’s annual rite of spring, the Kentucky Derby, is bringing to Louisville as diverse a crowd as ever has been seen in the event’s 133-year history.

Among the names expected to turn out for the weekend’s festivities and Saturday’s big event: Kevin Federline, Larry Birkhead – and Queen Elizabeth II of England.

“I am so excited to attend the Kentucky Derby this year and am honored that the Barnstable Brown Family personally invited me,” Federline tells PEOPLE. The Barnstable Brown Party, now in its 19th year, is considered the biggest Derby Eve gathering of celebrities in town and the real place to be seen.

“I’ve wanted to go for the past few years, so I am taking the opportunity and going to enjoy attending the race, going to the black tie gala’s and enjoying the whole experience,” said Federline. “It’s such a great tradition, and I’m glad I can be a part of it!”

The expected revelers at the party, whose theme is “That’s Entertainment,” include, according to local TV station WLKY, Kid Rock, Jenny McCarthy, Super Bowl MVPs Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, Olympians Bode Miller and Apolo Ohno, FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly, actresses Raquel Welch and Cybill Shepherd, comic Eddie Griffin, country singer Travis Tritt and R&B’s Michael McDonald.

Cohosting are sisters Tricia Barnstable Brown and Priscilla Barnstable, with proceeds from their charity evening going to benefit diabetes research in honor of Barnstable Brown’s husband, David, who died from the disease in 2003.

This is also the event where, in 2004, freelance photographer Birkhead met Anna Nicole Smith, the future mother of his child, Dannielynn – who this week is in Louisville with her father, visiting his family.

Among Birkhead’s plans, he has said, was to attend the Barnstable Brown party.

Of course, the main event is Saturday’s race, which will bring out Queen Elizabeth II – and the oddsmakers. As far as they are predicting, the horse to beat is the undefeated and unchallenged Curlin, who remains a slight 7-2 favorite over 4-1 Street Sense, the Associated Press reports.

“We don’t know how good this horse is,” Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia says of the imposing chestnut colt, “but he’s just been dominating.”