I’m a native Kentuckian, so the first Saturday in May has always been a special day for me. When the horns play before the big race, I still get chills down my body. When you watch the event on TV, perhaps its perfection is what gives me chills; the perfectly manicured grass and track, picturesque steeples, and gorgeous horses. This year, Lyndsi and I were able to attend; this was her first Derby. What we found was the serenity you see on TV is very different in person.
- Mint juleps really are a seasonal drink that live up to the hype. Though at $11 each, they should. Even if you’re not a bourbon lover (like Lyndsi), you’ll become a fan. Crisp, refreshing, and sweet. Bring cash, they don’t take credit cards.
- The Derby did not disappoint when it came to the people-watching and circus of it all. People really do go all out for this, and it makes for an amusing and entertaining day. Seersucker suits, bow ties, crazy hats, nothing is out of bounds.
- The race itself is truly exciting and captivating. Even if you don’t have a horse in the race (no pun intended), you can’t help but feel your adrenaline rushing as they come down the stretch.
- Long lines, expensive food/drinks (is that a surprise) make the day less enjoyable.
- They say the Derby weather is either cold or hot, there is no in-between. That proved itself true this year, as the 85-degree sunny weather became unbearable at times.
- Churchhill Downs is beautiful, but once you get into it, it shows its age. It could definitely use some renovations and fresh coats of paint.
- We had grandstands seats, which sounds luxurious, but it was literally uncovered bleachers without seat-backs. You had to stand on them to see the track, and being in direct sunlight made it rather uncomfortable.
- We were desperately looking for a cool place to sit in the hours leading up the race. Instead, there were crowds, lines, and people everywhere I looked. It would be nice if there were some air-conditioned lounges to more of the general public. We were so uncomfortable that we went back to our car to sit in the AC for a while.
The Bottom Line
- Everyone should attend the Derby at least once. It’s a fun experience and there’s nothing else like it. I love the traditions behind it, and its importance to my home state is enormous. But unless you have tons of money to spend to be on Millionaire’s Row, I think I’ll be watching from home at a Derby party. The enormous crowds, belligerent drunks, unbearable heat, inflated prices, and traffic nightmares will be hard to forget.