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Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter honors late mother at Kentucky Derby gala

Larry Birkhead and Smith met at the Kentucky gala two decades ago and shared one child together before her death in 2007.
/ Source: TODAY

Larry Birkhead and his daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, attended their annual Kentucky Derby weekend trip, this time paying special homage to late wife and mother Anna Nicole Smith.

Larry Birkhead, who shared the now 16-year-old with the model, posted a series of photos on Instagram between May 5 and May 6 to mark the annual event. At Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala, Dannielynn Birkhead offered a special tribute to her mom through her ensemble.

The teenager donned a long-sleeved black and white top printed with a pattern of photos of Smith from her famous Guess campaign. Her look was made complete with a tiered black tulle skirt, a black belt adorned with a silver bow and a multi-strand necklace.

“Tonight is the 20th anniversary where I met Dannielynn’s Mom at the same event,” Larry Birkhead added in the caption.

He shared another photo of the father-daughter duo before the Gala, posing side-by-side with Dannielynn Birkhead as they smiled at the camera. In the photo, Larry Birkhead also showed off his tie, which included the same print of Smith from his daughter's shirt.

“More Barnstable-Gala pre-party pics,” he wrote in the caption, adding, “Can’t believe Dannielynn is almost 17.”

Speaking to People ahead of the 34th annual gala, Larry Birkhead opened up about his daughter’s decision to don an ensemble that would pay homage to her mom. 

“She’s showing off her fashion sense but at the same time paying tribute to her mom,” he explained. “It came from a Guess collection that sold out and she [Dannielynn] saved it for a special occasion. It’s done with photos from some of Anna’s best Guess campaigns.”

This year’s Kentucky Derby also marked a special year for Larry Birkhead as the 20th anniversary of meeting Smith.

Larry Birkhead and Smith first met at the same gala back in 2003. At the time, he was a photographer covering the event. During the interview, he recalled their first interaction, saying he was only “hoping for a decent picture,” but “wound up with so much more. It’s funny how one event can change your life.”

Though Larry Birkhead keeps his daughter out of the spotlight, the Kentucky Derby has become a special tradition for the father-daughter pair since the death of Smith in February 2007 when Dannielynn Birkhead was only 5-months-old.

At the 2022 Kentucky Derby, Larry Birkhead documented the weekend with his daughter across social media, including several snaps posing in their colorful Derby outfits. 

Dannielynn Birkhead also rocked an iconic outfit to the 2022 Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala, donning one of Janet Jackson’s personal outfits that she previously wore to the same event back in 2003. That night, the duo met Jackson and posed for a photo together, a moment they were able to recreate months later in July 2022 when they posed backstage with Jackson.

It was a star-studded Derby weekend for Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn Birkhead at the 2023 Kentucky Derby, too.

They met up with former Bon Jovi member Richie Sambora.

Larry Birkhead said on Instagram that the iconic rocker had “graciously made good on his offer to give Dannielynn a private guitar lesson” in his Instagram caption, adding that the guitarist was ultimately able to give her “confidence building tips.”