It's 160,000 people going crazy over 2 minutes of some of the world's finest athletes galloping a dirt track.
It's having a mint julep whether you like them or not, mainly so you can keep the glass.
Attending the Derby means you will spend the day being overloaded with the crowd's energy, which if pictured somehow, would look somewhat like an eternal merry-go-round with clowns around every turn, some are of the scary breed, too. Ew.
Indeed, the Derby requires stamina, courage, determination and agility. Being part of the media makes manuevering through the crowd much easier -- once you get to an access gate -- so we are very lucky to have the credentials to see all there is to see, and less, if that is what you so desire. This year, that is what I so desired...so I didn't see Bo Derek, or Ashton Kutcher (heard he was a real ass, though) or MaryJ Blige, whose lovely rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was worthy of the Derby honor, and whose rose-covered hat and dress were by far the best Derby outfit of the day. I did get to see the NCAA champion University of Kentucky Wildcats in the tunnel that leads from the paddock to the track. They were surrounded by a very diligent security team, and so I took a quick photo and moved on to the task of the day - triggering the camera at the finish line.
As you probably know, the race was won by I'LL HAVE ANOTHER (you can read my prior post about him by clicking on the link below) who surged at the end of the mile and a quarter course to edge out all the others and win the biggest horse race in the world. To be honest, I did not see the race, all I saw was a lot of horses, dirt and sound from their hooves hitting the dirt and the crowd going wild in front of me. I had to concentrate on my duty, so I paid no attention to the race until long afterward. I did snag a rose from the garland room, where the nice folks allowed me access so I could see the garland of lilies and rose boxes, still adorned with lilies and roses...one of the fellows asked me if I wanted a rose, so heck yeah, I gladly toted the four-foot tall tea rose all teh away back to the media center, and then all the way back to the car as we walked, walked and walked to catch the shuttle bus that never came...so we walked some more, miles, to our vehicle in the Papa frickin' Johns parking lot. My feet are still angry with me and I believe they will not easily forgive the punishment they took on the first Saturday in May.
Thinking it would make things easier going to the Kentucky Derby, Amy, Lisa and I had left in the late morning, arriving in Louisville around noon. Z had told us to not come early, that it was brutal at Churchill Downs with the hot weather, and so we thought we'd meander in sometime in the early afternoon. A few snags in the traffic along the way to Churchill, but once we got there, we parked in the normally media-friendly lot, thinking we'd soon be charioted to the Downs and all would be easy and breezy.
The first omen it was going to be a day full of snafus was when the shuttle bus didn't arrive in the media lot where we stood in the midday sun for a good sizzling hour. By then, we were starting to wilt, and the day before us looked daunting. It certainly was, lambchops, it certainly was. In case I forget to mention it, at the end of the day, when we awaited the shuttle to return to the lot and go home, well, it simply never arrived. Shee yit.
Apart from the 160,000+ record crowd squeezing in at every angle possible, there was the hot weather, security was strangely ruder than usual and we heard tell there was a sniper on the roof of the Twin Spires grandstands. (fun facts, right?) Since that news did not seem to surprise anyone around me, I feigned bravery and didn't follow up on that item of talk at all. If they're there to protect and they're licensed to shoot, then so be it. I'll have another julep, then.
Forgive us our press passes...we were only there to push buttons, carry and deliver cards full of photos to be downloaded back to our media spot, and enjoy the day. Wisely, I stayed inside until the Derby race itself. I watched the undercard races in the air conditioned comfort and enjoyed the fine food catered for us and our hungry colleagues. Every year I see mostly the same press people, Rob Bromley sits at a table most of the day with a long face...mustering up just enough spunk to go on television and seem to be an even less enthusiastic Ben Stein. In prior years, I found that a source of amusement, but after last Saturday, I know why he's always frowning. It's the best two minutes in sports, but it's also the longest day in sports, for the press folk anyway. Surely the novelty has worn off and Rob is wearily awaiting his exit to the commitment of broadcasting a worldwide event. I saw my friend Dick Gabriel looking fit and happy; always great to see Mr. Gabriel, but this year we acknowledged our kinship as heart-challenged old farts. When I told him about my arrhythmia, and the fret it was causing me, he said, "Me too -- I've had two splints placed...high five!" lol
|My ukulele students learned|
MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME
in their second group lesson!
The rest of day is a collection of incredible images of people who have had too much to drink, yet somehow think they can still walk and talk. I saw a couple passed out on the grounds near the paddock, they were holding hands, though, is that not sweet? We watched a well dressed young man fall and bust his forehead open, but who then still tried to get up. All we needed was a referee to count him down and it would have been worthy of a cool wrestling or boxing match - him fighting himself, in an inebriated state.
Other images were fantastic, though, like seeing some of the prettiest people ever in their elaborate hats, fasincators, suits and shoes (oh my, the shoes are gorgeous, but my feet hurt just thinking about some of the shoes, which resemble the binding some Asian women use to ensure small feet) watching the post parade from inside the rail, we had the stupendous opportunity to behold the sight of the huge crowd on their tippy toes, all watching the track to see the horses. Those few minutes just prior to the big race are always tremendous and I just love it. It makes me forget the blood, sweat and tears of the day and celebrate being a Kentuckian...even if it's just for a few minutes.
|Z Crew Members, Amy Owens, Kimmy Thomas & Lisa Osland|
Happy to be Kimmy and not Rob Bromley,
PS - I have more current photos and a cute video and will post them as soon as poss ;-)