Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Call to the Post

Every first weekend in May when I was growing up, my family would tune into watch the Kentucky Derby. Perhaps because of my mom's love for horses or because in the earlier part of the twentieth century a distant relative was twice a winning jockey of the race, watching the Derby run was an important, never-missed tradition for us.

The morning of the race would be spent reading the sports section of the newspaper for information on the running horses; we read so that we could choose the horses we would be cheering on for the win.

Aimee Herring Photography

Our decisions were mostly made by the highly scientific means of deciding which horse's name and silks we liked most. Sometimes, though I can't say often, the odds came into play for me too, and when I say they came into play, it was in falling for the long shots.

Eric Piasecki Photography

Odds of 25-1? 35-1? 50-1? As a person who loves to champion the underdog, who has a soft spot for movies like Rudy, The Mighty Ducks, and Little Giants and who delighted in the unexpected romance of Samantha Baker and Jake Ryan, higher odds didn't scare me off. In fact, sometimes, they were all the better.

Watching the Derby continued to be part of my life each spring, even after I graduated from high school. In college, my best friend, L, hailed from the Bluegrass State, and I discovered her knowledge of horse racing was much greater than mine.

In addition to horses' names, L's picks were made based on a knowledge of trainers, jockey's, and stables, information she shared with me. I watched the Derby my freshman year in college with what felt like more insight; suddenly, the names of the humans involved with the day meant a little more to me.

Marisa Crawford Indri

I attended my first live horse races at Churchill Downs with L and her dad, and, although it wasn't the Derby, I learned firsthand the excitement of a winning ticket. During grad school, I watched the Derby broadcast at Keeneland, another horse track in Kentucky, with L and her friends from home. While I didn't win big, I did leave with a new found love for the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby, as I enjoyed my first mint julep, served in an official souvenir glass, that day.

I still watch the Derby ever year, but instead of reading the sports section for information on the contenders, I read my information online. My rather limited knowledge of trainers and jockeys sometimes factors into my picks, but I must admit my decisions are still mostly based on horses' names, silks, and odds.

I have yet to make it to Churchill Downs for the running of the Derby, but I still hope for that day to be in my future. My friends from college made a pack to one day attend together, and our sights are set high on Grandstand seats, as expensive and difficult to come by as they may be.

I can't wait to don a lovely hat and cheer with the crowd, but, until then, I will continue watching and cheering along with my t.v. Speaking of, there is Derby coverage to which I now must attend and some horses I need to cheer on for the win. Happy Derby Day!


alissa said...

ive always wanted to go to the derby just for the hats :)

Blair said...

Oh, what a lovely post! That first photo is just fantastic. I hope you had a wonderful derby weekend!

Haven and Home said...

I have always wanted to go to. I love the hat you have linked!

Treacy said...

What a great Derby! Thanks for such a perfect wind up to this special event. Just loved the entire week.

please sir said...

Sounds like such a wonderful event!

Meg said...

I'm so in love with these horsey posts!!! That Gucci bracelet is to die for! :)

DolceBaci said...

Sounds like fun! Those photos are great!

Georgia B. said...

the hat photo is GORGEOUS!

i was in Florida during the derby. i almost watched it, but the beach was calling my name.

LipstickOne said...

beautiful images!

Mary Jo from TrustYourStyle said...

I love this story and hope that you will have a kentucky derby party whether you go or not next year :)


hijj said...

So cool and beautiful!!!!

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