The late Luke Kruytbosch, who served for a decade as the “Voice of the Kentucky Derby” in his role as announcer at historic Churchill Downs, will be honored on Saturday, Feb. 28 as the American Heart Association holds its 17th annual Crystal Heart Gala at the Louisville Marriott Downtown.

The snazzy Saturday evening black-tie event features fine food, great auction items and music and annually raises money to fight heart disease and stroke. The Gala is annually a hot ticket each year that attracts many of Kentuckiana’s business and medical community leaders. This year’s event begins at 6 p.m. (Eastern).

Kruytbosch, who provided the vivid and exciting on-track calls of each Kentucky Derby from 1999-2008, died suddenly last July at the age of 47. It appeared that heart disease was the cause of his death.

Churchill Downs has stepped into a position of prominence for the Crystal Heart Gala to honor its late announcer and focus attention on heart disease, the nation’s number-one cause of death for men and women. John Asher, the legendary track’s vice president of racing communications, is chairman for the 2009 Crystal Heart Gala.

For 2009, Gala Director Michael Neumann has added carnival midway games, where attendees can win locally donated gift certificates and merchandise. Entry requires an admission fee, but there’s no limit on play once inside. Games include beanbag toss, ring toss, skee ball, tip-a-troll and others.

There also is an open bar (with sno-cone martinis!), live and bid-board auctions, and music by Gayle King and the Pendulum Orchestra.
Some tickets are still available at $500 per person/$1,000 per couple. Corporate tables and sponsorships are also still available. For more information, to sponsor the gala or to order tickets, call (502) 587-8641.

The Crystal Heart Gala raises money for the American Heart Association, which funds education, advocacy and scientific research to fight heart disease and stroke. The gala has a special emphasis on childhood heart disease.

Churchill Downs is one of a number of corporations whose involvement in the gala is stellar. The University of Louisville is a top sponsor—the Heart Society Champion, a three-year commitment. River Road Asset Management is also a key Crystal Heart Gala sponsor.