Derby Time!

It’s quite a thing to live in Louisville this time of year, even if you’re not particularly interested in horses. I never was, though I have to say the Kentucky Derby has always loomed large in the Pastry family. My grandfather never owned race horses, but there was a time, early in his career, when he insured them. His business moved on to more profitable segments of the economy (like airlines), but he never lost his taste for the ceremony around horse racing. Indeed even though he lived in far west suburban Chicago (Wayne, Illinois), he annually hosted a Derby gathering. My mother would dress my sister and I in our Sunday clothes and we’d head out to my grandparents rural home, where we’d chat and sip soft drinks with sprigs of mint in them. Never in a million years would I have thought that someday I’d live within five miles of Churchill Downs.

In past years I’ve tried to describe what it’s like to go to “Dawn at the Downs” the week before the Derby. This year I decided to put up some pictures. We usually get there around seven, and by then more than a few horses are already training. You’d be amazed at how fast these animals move…

One of the great benefits of being there so early is that almost everybody is feeling relaxed and gabby. You can walk right down to the rail and talk to the trainers and jockeys.

This filly, her rider said, was crazy for candy.

This one was lucky enough to get a mint from little 5-year-old Josephine.

Josephine wasn’t happy to be slobbered on (the horse was foamy from all the running), but in the end she felt it was worth it. What with all the photography and chatting, I didn’t get a chance to watch too many of the horses run, but the big buzz this year is around General Quarters. I’m still not sure though. I’ll put my own pick up a bit later.

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