Saturday, May 5, 2012

5/5/2012 The Shortest Two Minutes in Sports (3)

This is the final section to this post.

The crowd by mid-day was practically chair arm to chair arm and blanket to blanket. The race every is waiting for won’t even go off until 6:24 p.m.

The 20-something’s just can’t hang with the big boys. These two aren’t napping, they are passed out.


This one couldn’t hang either.


It truly was ridiculous how drunk these people were by 1 p.m. I’m a firm believer that no one under 30 should even be admitted to the grounds. They are just not mature enough for a day at the races. They thought they were at a rock concert. I also don’t agree with the DJ in the Infield. There’s a time and a place and in my opinion its not here. I wasn’t the only one who thinks this way, I could here the conversations around us.

Bob is having a good day at the track. He’s winning more than he’s losing but he’s getting aggravated about the betting system here. There are lines at the windows in the beginning but as the race gets closer to post time everyone just pushes in and its one huge mass and they all want to be next. Add in some drunks to this mix and its not a pretty picture.

Some more scenes from the grounds.


From one extreme to the other.







Yes, you are seeing this right.




The lines at the betting windows are getting so bad by five o’clock the at the 8th race Bob decided to just bet the rest of the races all at once. He really didn’t want to do this because a horse can be scratched, the odds could change greatly but he felt he may not be able to bet the race he came for if he didn’t. I also placed my bets at this time for the big race. However, I went to a different bank of windows and I was back in 20 minutes. It took Bob a little over an hour. Doesn’t he look like he’s been to a war zone and back?


This is one of the bets he placed.


We can’t see the actual race from the Infield. We have to watch the race on the big screens around the track.

It is so crowded here now. There are 165,000 people here between the Infield, Paddock and Grandstands. That’s a lot of people!

Race time is getting closer. People around us are coming back without placing bets because they can’t get anywhere near the betting windows. I’m glad we already have ours because we’re hearing arguments and skirmishes are starting because some won’t wait patiently and are stepping ahead of others. Between the race against time to get the bets down, too much adult beverages being consumed and the heat, well tempers are flaring.

Here’s what happening in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.

The Paddock….

With about a half hour to post time, Derby runners and their entourages step off the track and onto the rubber walkway leading to the Paddock. Grooms try to keep the horses calm as thousands strain to get even a glimpse of these magnificent specimens of horseflesh. The Horse Identifier reads the lip tattoo of each horse before allowing it to enter the walking ring. Photographers, pros and amateurs alike, are crammed along the fence line trying to get shots of the horses while the crowd in the Paddock pushes in, looking for clues as to which horse will cross the finish line first. Is the horse active and energetic? Nervous? Calm?

After a trip or two around the walking ring the grooms take the horses to the saddling stalls. There, the jockey valet help the trainer saddle their horse, careful that everything is just right so that an equipment error will not cost them a trip to the Winner’s Circle. Jockeys now enter the Paddock to meet their mounts and huddle with the trainers over last minute details and strategies.

Riders Up!

As the horses are saddled, anxious owners and trainers offer a last few words of encouragement to their jockeys. With about 12 minutes to race time the Paddock Judge calls, “Riders UP!”. Trainers give their jockeys a leg up onto their mounts and everyone in the Paddock area gets a final look at horse and rider as each passes through the tunnel under the Twin Spires. Owners and trainers make their way to their boxes to watch their horse run the Kentucky Derby. The race is now in the hands of each horse and rider.

Call To The Post

As the late afternoon sun sinks down behind the Twin Spires, the Bugler trains his eye on something else. Standing in the Winners Circle Pagoda, he waits for the Derby runners to come out from the darkness of the tunnel and on to the track. When the first horse steps onto the dirt, he raises his bugle and plays Call to the Post. A roar emerges from the packed grandstand and Infield as each horse meets up with their assigned Pony Person, who is also on horseback. By now the crowd has started singing My Old Kentucky Home and goose bumps will run up and down arms and some will wipe a tear away. The Pony Person helps calm the thoroughbred as it prepares for the biggest race of its life.

Now the race is over. We’ve won. Not as much as we would have if that darn number six horse would have come in first but we came out winners. After all the $8 beers throughout the day, the two $5 Pepsi’s, the bets made on the few races Bob lost, Bob is leaving with double the money he came with. Granted, he didn’t come in here with a thousand dollars but he didn’t come in with only a hundred either. He’s had a good day. His bucket list is minus one more thing.

Now that all that is said, we can say we’ve been to the Kentucky Derby and we have no desire to go again. We were disappointed with the whole experience. It was too much of a rock concert party atmosphere in the Infield. By race time there were so many drunks staggering around that you constantly had to be aware of people walking by while you sat in your chair in case one fell on you. We never got to hear My Old Kentucky Home. The music was so loud from the DJ and his bazillion speakers that when the grandstand started singing, we couldn’t hear it. So many around us were just heartbroken that they didn’t get to have that experience. I know we were disappointed! The crowd in the Infield with Derby experience rushed to the areas in front of the big screens and we couldn’t get close enough to really see the race.

We decided not to stay for the last races but did wait about 40 minutes for the major crush of people trying to leave at the same time to get through the tunnel. We wanted no parts of that. Out in the parking lot we got in line for our just over an hour wait for our shuttle.

It was a long hot day. We’re glad we went, kinda, sorta, but we won’t do it again unless we had assigned seats in the grandstands. We heard how much they cost, someone in our parking lot paid over $700 for their run of the mill grandstand seats. No thanks, we’ll watch it from the comfort of our home with 30 beers we’ll pay under twenty five bucks for and a clean bathroom without having to wait in line.

I took this one last hat picture.


This is the aftermath of the Kentucky Derby.




We’re starting home tomorrow!

1 comment:

LaVon Baker said...

No, thank you.

Wonderful and honest blog post, Snookie. Loved it.