I know that the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby were over two months ago. Again, this is one of those times where the blog is one part journal and one part scrapbook.
The First Saturday in May. The Run For the Roses. The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.
I am the girl whose parents bought her riding lessons to assuage her grief at being forced to quit full-time ballet while still keeping her in part-time dance. It was everything to be at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Everything was brighter. Everything was louder.
On Derby Day, we arrived at the track with just enough time to scamper to our seats before the first race began. Does that mean that we were at the track for nine hours that day? Yes. But I also knew that we didn’t want to miss a single minute.
Or a single mint julep.
Thank Goodness, because otherwise we would have missed the maiden race where three (three!) of the horses dumped their jockeys.
It was just a dash of chaos.
Arriving earlier in the day was actually a perfect plan because there were things we could do earlier in the day (watch races from the rail, visit the paddock) that became harder, if not functionally impossible, later in the day.
See also: Us watching a race from the rail.
If I may be so honest, I spent a not-insignificant amount of prayer on the weather for Derby Day since it seems to tend to extremes: pouring rain and a slop track or gorgeous. I packed for all weather experiences because we were not in covered seats, so we had ponchos, shoes that would survive rain, and all of the other clothing we would need for a tempest.
As it turns out, we had nothing to worry about because it was 75 and sunny without a cloud in the sky.
When we visited the paddock before Race 3, we asked an 80 year-old woman to take our photo beneath the Twin Spires. Had the photo turned out, that would have been wonderful. But this was so much better.
Old Woman: I’m not so good at working these.
I DIE. Thank Goodness for the girl standing next to us, who offered us a shot at a do-over.
After Race 3, we decided to journey to The Infield. I feel like The Kentucky Derby Infield is nearly as famous as the race itself, so there was no reason not to go.
I grabbed a mint julep immediately upon entry because even though I wasn’t really in the mood for a drink, I felt like it would be sacrilege to enter the Infield sober. We actually ended up finding a really great spot near the turf rail to watch Race 4, which was a turf race. While I’m glad we had the chance to wander through, it also made me very glad that we had stand seats. I would not have survived a whole day in there.
What were we doing the rest of the time? Honestly, most of the day was spent betting-drinking-watching a race-walking around-anticipating the Derby.
That’s what horse racing is, people. Unrelated: Isn’t he Just Dapper?
Seeing them drag out The Official Gates for The Derby was Really Wild.
As was singing My Old Kentucky Home In Kentucky With Everyone Else In The Stands. Did I cry a little bit?
Possibly Absolutely yes.
We all know how that race ended. California Chrome won. While he would gallop on to win the Preakness as well, he would not win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. How truly lucky I am to have been able to cross this Excellent Adventure off of my life list.