Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Derby Weekend

Growing up in Louisville, the Derby is a major holiday for me. I've had parties some years since moving away, but friends in South Carolina and Tennessee never quite fully grasp the true splendor of the first Saturday in May.

I only went to the Derby once during my growing up years—when I was fifteen, with a friend whose family friend owned or trained a horse running in some race that day (did you know there are twelve other races run on Derby Day, besides the Derby itself?) and so we got to sit in the bleachers on the "back side," across the track from the iconic twin spires, over near the barns. Nonetheless, I've always celebrated Derby. The Kentucky Derby Festival runs two weeks prior to Derby Day, people are off work and school the day before (Oaks Day), and the television coverage runs morning to night on Derby Day. It's a big deal, even if you don't go.

All that said, I was THRILLED to actually go to Derby this year! My parents, aunt and uncle, cousin, and Matt and I had a box in the clubhouse area, donned our hats and had a great day.

One cool thing about working for a Louisville-based company now is that we get Oaks Day off, just like I did growing up in school! And, I took an extra day off to pack and prepare—actually, I spent that day in doctor appointments and therapy with BGC, then surprised the big girls by breaking them out of school early and going to the zoo! An impromptu family fun date was a great way to kick off the "holiday" weekend.

Friday, we headed up to Louisville, and Matt and I took advantage of the grandparent babysitting to go on an all-too-rare date night. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant on the hipster strip, Bardstown Road, then walked off the heavy pasta with a three mile stroll down to the church where we got married, and back! (was wearing the same 3-in. heel wedges I would wear to Derby the next day--good for walking!)

We ended the date with what might seem like an odd excursion (to Kroger!) but I can't believe I'd never made it part of my Derby celebration growing up! The Kroger floral department makes the blanket of roses that is laid on the winning horse, and you can go watch it being made the night before and all through the night!

Race day cometh, and we took the big girls to spend the day with a dear childhood friend and her two kiddos. (BGC stayed with another foster family, back in Nashville.) They wore their own hats for the occasion!

We got to enjoy a nice brunch at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium before walking over to Churchill Downs. (My cousin, aunt, uncle, and mom pictured below.)

We arrived at the Downs just before the fifth race. (The Derby is the eleventh race of the day.) I rushed to place a bet on "Jessica's Star" before even finding our seats, and won a quick ten bucks—almost the price of a mint julep, which ran $11, in the non-optional commemorative glass.

As it turned out, Matt and I were the only members of our party to come out on top in the gambling department. At the end of the day, my family members were quite in the hole, but we'd won $84 on $66 of betting, for $18 net. One-and-a-half juleps, in other words.

Actually, our profit was a total accident. Matt wanted to beat the rush by placing his Derby bet earlier in the day. "Can I bet now for race eleven?" Matt asked the betting window guy just before race seven. "Yes," the guy told him. So Matt shelled out $21 in support of horse #1, Vicar's In Trouble (perfect name for an irreverent pastor, eh?)—or so he thought. Turned out, the guy registered his bet as for race seven, so Matt unwittingly had almost two juleps' worth riding on horse #1 in that race, 20-1 filly Street Girl. Wouldn't you know, Street Girl won and we won $64!

It was a great day to be with family, dress swanky, drink all day long, and participate in a great Kentucky tradition.


Matthew Kelley said...

Street-girl didn't win, she placed, in race 7, but that's still a good bet for a preacher, since Jesus hung with street-girls.

EMU said...

So fun!

Sonya said...

So fun! I loved watching the coverage this year. We have been near Churchill once a year for the last few years but have never been. Now I really want to visit!

Kim said...

SO fun!! We were actually supposed to go this year and our plans fell through, but I know we'll get there eventually. I'll have to remember that about Kroger… I'd love to see that! How cool that they let people watch!


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