Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Derby daze

Friends, the Commonwealth of Kentucky appears to be getting back to normal following the descent of, you know, everyone who's anyone into the state for the Kentucky Derby, which occurred last Saturday.

Disclaimer:  I know NOTHING about horse racing, and have never attended the Derby, despite having been a Kentucky resident for virtually my entire life.  But it's our state's annual moment to shine and show the world a little bit of itself.  This year apparently did not disappoint, with overall good weather (save for a sudden but brief thunderstorm a short time before the big race) and favorite Nyquist winning in good fashion, although another horse was closing fast at the end of the race.  Will Nyquist have what it takes to repeat what American Pharoah accomplished last year and win the Triple Crown?  We'll know in a few weeks!

When I say "everyone who's anyone" my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, but lots of famous, semi-famous and formerly famous people turn up at the many parties, particularly in the Louisville area, the night before the race and then for race day itself the next day.  I won't name-drop, as I really never saw a list or a group of pictures of who attended, but I do know from news reports that Senator Ted Cruz, who recently suspended his presidential campaign, was on hand with his wife, eluding reporters and declining to answer questions.  A lot of the famous were from sports and entertainment, which one would expect.  Former Kentucky basketball and football players are royalty at this event, as you'd expect.

There was one very nice story associated with this.  Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers came to Kentucky to attend one of the more prominent parties and the race on Saturday, but in between managed to witness his wide receiver and friend Randall Cobb graduating from the University of Kentucky, as Cobb had promised his family he would do after leaving UK a year early to enter the NFL draft.  Nice.

Speaking of NFL players, last night I saw a clip online that showed quarterback Mark Sanchez, now with the Denver Broncos, showing off a cane to some friends.  The cane, it turned out, was actually a flask.  Since the Derby crowd is apparently propelled by alcohol to some extent, why a millionaire athlete would go to the trouble of smuggling in liquor is unclear.

I live in Lexington, some 80 miles away, yet our NBC affiliate has for many years packed up virtually the whole news operation to Louisville to "cover" the Derby.  It's pretty funny seeing news anchors and reporters dressed up for a festive occasion, particularly all of the females wearing hats that are not comfortable or customary to them and trying to look somewhat dignified all the same.  Easier for men, of course, they just wear a sportier jacket or tie and they're all set.

So those who follow the sport of horse racing will now turn their gaze to Baltimore, where the the Preakness Stakes will take place at Pimlico in a couple of weeks.  I hope they have as much fun at their big event as those in Kentucky appeared to have had!


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