I returned yesterday from Louisville, my hometown, where I went to the 141st Kentucky Derby.
It was a beautiful Derby Day, as you’ll see in a minute, and a record crowd of 170,000 turned out.
The Derby is a permanent sellout, with the vast majority of Grandstand and Clubhouse seats owned by corporations or people who have held the seats for decades.
One time I was able to buy tickets by writing to Churchill Downs months in advance — and those seats weren’t very good. Usually, I buy tickets outside the track. That was the case this year, and because I was on my own, I had no trouble.
Immediately upon arriving at a track-perimeter gate, I was able to buy a clubhouse ticket for $200 — $10 over face value — from a guy who was standing around trying to sell a couple of tickets he had acquired. The fact that I arrived at the track very late — about 2;30 p.m. — helped me get a ticket at close to face value. At that point, I was the only person around looking for a ticket.
But I have lots of photos for you, so let’s get the show on the road!
This is called the “walkover,” when the horses — accompanied by throngs of people with connections to the owners — are led from the stables to the paddock area. The No. 4 horse is Tencendur, who finished well back.
The horses have just passed the finish line for the first time and are heading into the Clubhouse turn. That’s Dortmund (8) leading on the rail. (He finished third.) Firing Line (10), who finished second, is next to him, and American Pharoah is third. It’s unusual for the horses leading in the first turn to stay up front all the way around the track, but that’s how it went Saturday.
I’ve been parking for several years with Charlie and Barb, who make their side yard available to a limited number of people. They used to jam cars into every part of the yard but stopped doing that a few years ago.