I had been prepping for a long while to check “attending the Derby” off my bucket list. Tickets? (check), Silly hat? (check), Cute colorful dress? (check), Strappy flats? (check), Beautiful weather? (That, would be negative). The days up to the race were cold and rainy. Our tickets are general admission and located in the infield. Did I mention rainy?
So the big day finally arrives and….yay! more rain. Ok, need to rethink attire. Tickets? (check), Silly hat? (check), colorful long shirt, jeans, boots, and rain coat. (check) Mark and I headed out from Cave City about noon. It is an hour and a half ride to Louisville and we lose an hour (central to eastern time). We exit the expressway, go about 3 blocks to find great parking in the Southern Louisville Christian Church lot. They use the funds to send their youth to summer camp. They also gave us a map to Gate 3, which is the general admission entrance. As we started to walk away one of the members told us to hop in and he will drive us up! Sweet!
The gate was packed as we are all being wanded and bags checked but it moved pretty quickly. Through the tunnel toward the infield.
As we emerge from the tunnel the atmosphere is electric! Thousands of people, most dressed to the nines are making there way through the crowds. We pass by the first wagering windows. Um, no, I’m NOT walking through 50 feet of 6 inch deep mud to place a $5 bet. Ain’t happening. But I was dumbfounded by the masses in huge lines that were doing that in what were once beautiful shoes. Oh well, to each his own. Mark and I continued our walk around to see what was what. Live music playing, crazy hats, pretty hats, some weird/funny hats.
We near the end of the front straight and look! Wagering windows! on asphalt! with NO LINE! Man are we living right today! So I walk up and place (2) $5 bets. One to win on “Patch” for Julie back at the campground, and one to win on “Lookin at Lee” for us. If I had bet to place, I would have won a couple hundred bucks! Oh well…. that is the Barrington in me.
Now onward, we just need partake in the traditional mint julip. While I’m not really a bourbon person, this is certainly the venue to suck it up and join the crowd. $12! Holy cow! But it was refreshing to sip on while we continued to make the rounds.
We enter the merchandise tent. Hundreds of folks buying ball hats, tee shirts, key chains, cups….what’s this I see?….Jewelry! Mark sighs heavily and follows me over. It’s like he can feel his wallet getting lighter. We look for a bit and decide on these. Very unique and I will always have them as a wearable reminder of our day.
Harry Connick Jr. sang the national anthem. He did an amazing job. Didn’t get to see him 😦 but we could hear his sultry voice. We got to peek at the band lining up to go out to perform “My Ol Kentucky Home” along with the Armed Forces Choir. This was a stalker pic through the fence. The unwashed masses were not allowed on that side. Very cool.
Here is the video of My Ol Kentucky home…excuse the drunk guy beside me trying to sing it at the beginning…glad he stopped 🙂
Well the day has been great. Albeit muddy but great. About 2 hours prior to Race 12 the “big” race of the day. We see this coming right at us. Crap, no where to go and hope it doesn’t last too long. Which it didn’t. But not before exacting its toll on the in field crowd.
Did I mention the mass of humanity that is in here?
Ten minutes to post time at 6:35 the trumpet sounded and we catch a glimpse of the horses heading out of the paddock towards the gates!
We have found a spot at turn one at the fence that is not too crowded. Most people are down at turn four and the straight. That’s ok, we have a clear shot to the jumbo tron and can watch the remainder on it.
AND THEY’RE OFF!…..the wave of crowd cheers follow them as they head down the straight….as they begin the first turn you could hear the thundering hooves approaching….the are only in our sight for 3 seconds…but SO COOL! Here is the video.
Thank you babe for a wonderful and memorable day!