Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Derby Day

Kristin and Jose

Group pic

The ladies of the Derby

Kristin and Aaron

Greg and Kristin

Kristin and the boys heading to the infield

Kristin and Greg picking winners

The traditional 35-pound blanket of 564 red roses (which were interestingly never placed on Big Brown's back, as he "freaked out" at the Florida Derby when they put flowers on him)

Beautiful Derby horse

Court Vision (4th position)

Big Brown, Winner of 2008 Kentucky Derby

Luckily, derby day graced us with plenty of sunshine, great racing, entertaining people watching, and plenty of mint julep induced debauchery. We started the day with another homemade breakfast feast a la chez de Koetter’s, complete with regional specialties and mimosas. We were certainly living the life in Louisville.

We made our way to the track just after the third race of the day, where we enjoyed our newly established “infielder” status. Although not quite rolling like at Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, it was a nice change of scenery and offered a nice balance of infield craziness and paddock sophistication. We spent most of our time in the crowded paddock area, which is an area behind the grandstand where the horses and jockeys are staged before heading out onto the track. It’s a great place to admire the horses, and if you really know what you’re doing, observe each horse’s pre-race condition and preparation and make bets accordingly. Of course, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, so I study the program and local newspapers, but mostly bet on horses with what I deem to be the coolest names.

We watched the big race, the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby (post time 6:04pm), from the Paddock area on a very big jumbotron. There was a full field of 20 horses. Big Brown was the favorite at 3-1, but his 20th post position provided some doubt. Essentially, he would need to cut over from the furthest outfield position and risk getting tangled up in a mess of horses all vying for an inside position. My bet was on Pyro in post #9, an early season favorite who disappointed with a 10th place finish at the Blue Grass Derby, his last race prior to the Kentucky Derby. However, the Blue Grass was run on a synthetic track, so some believed Pyro would come back strong for the Derby. And he was in a fabulous post position.

Big Brown, of course, won the race by 4 ¾ lengths and is now focused on the Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, which will be run in Baltimore on May 17. Interestingly, Big Brown became just the second horse in the history of the derby to win after breaking from post position 20. Pyro made a mild rally from 18th to finish 8th. So no big money won here. And of course the whole race was overshadowed by the heartbreaking fate of second place filly, Eight Belles, who shattered both ankles just after crossing the fish line, and was immediately euthanized on the track. Eight Belles had been the first filly to compete in the Kentucky Derby since 1999.

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