Tuesday, May 14, 2024

People Watching at the Kentucky Derby by Merrillee Whren


May is Kentucky Derby month. This year was the 150th running of the Derby. It is held on the first Saturday in May and is the longest running sporting event in the United States. In 2016, my husband and I had the privilege of attending the Kentucky Derby. As an author there is nothing better than going somewhere and people watching. The Kentucky Derby is ready made for that very thing. 

Here I am dressed in my outfit alongside my husband as we arrived for our big day at the Derby. People were lining up to have their photos taken in front of the statue of Barbaro, a Kentucky Derby winner that had to be euthanized after an accident in the Preakness, the second race in the triple crown of horse racing.

My dress was covered in white daisies. Maybe it should have been roses or horses like this couple. When I saw their outfits, I had to take a photo. I’m going to post the photo even though at this size, you might not be able to tell that there are horses all over her dress and his vest and pants.



Just as we arrived, they were unloading the garland or blanket of roses that they put across the winning horse at the end of the race. I never thought about where the roses are kept or how they are made until we attended the race. The Kroger company makes the garland at one of their local stores. The red roses are sewn onto green satin. I was able to get this photo of the garland in its case before they unloaded it from the truck.



Of course, there are hats, hats and more hats everywhere you look. I took lots of photos of the ladies in their hats, and you see a lot of men in their hats and crazy outfits, as well. Here are several pictures. Look for the hat that resembles a black swan that had roosted on someone’s head. Notice the men in the very interesting matching outfits.




The weather was almost perfect except for the humidity that we fairly new Arizonians hadn’t missed since we moved away from Florida. The humidity came from the threat of thunderstorms that materialized just before the turf race that preceded the Derby race. You’ll notice that in many of the photos there is plenty of blue sky, but those ominous black clouds rolled in, and here’s what it looked like from our covered seats. Hubby was thinking ahead when he booked our seats. I learned that 46% of the time there is rain on Derby day.



The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the mint julep. It’s a concoction of basically mint-flavored syrupy sugar water and bourbon served over crushed ice. Here are folks lined up to get their mint juleps.


There are a total of fourteen races during the day—eleven before the Kentucky Derby and two afterwards. After a long day, the horses we came to watch in the Kentucky Derby appeared on the track for the post parade.


Here’s the starting gate, which was by the final turn near the end of the track where we sat.


Here’s a picture of the start of the race. Unfortunately, since I’m short I got the back of someone’s big head ruining my picture. That was definitely a low light. He must have popped up just as I was getting ready to take my picture because that head wasn’t there when I first looked at the view finder. It would have been a great picture without that head in the way.



Fortunately, I did get a pretty good video of the horses as they started down the back stretch. The finish line was a the other end of the race track where all the swells have seats. I hope you enjoy this twelve-seconds of the fastest two minutes in sports because it took a lot of work to figure out how to get it in this blog post.

A horse named Nyquist was the winner, and that was our big day at the Kentucky Derby. This year there was a photo finish with three horses. Mystic Dan was the winner. Have you ever been to a big sporting event?

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.

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