At Churchill Downs excess breathes excitement. While private jets sit wing tip to wing tip and nose to tail at the local airport, thousands pay $300.00 each to swelter in the noonday sun while they party on, dancing, drinking or sleeping off a colossal hangover, only to rise like the Phoenix to party again. The infield is so crowded that few if any will actually see the race. Most will watch on huge screens posted variously among them.
But if you have $12,000.00, you may spend the afternoon seated in air-conditioned comfort high above the race course on the grandstand's topmost floor, enjoying much of what money and privilege offer and allow.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup of rinsed mint leaves, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 1 (750 ml) bottle of respectable Kentucky Bourbon. (Not sure there is such a thing.)
- crushed ice
The run to the first Saturday in May began 56 million years ago, when the dawn horse, the tiny Eohippus appeared in what would become The United States. The horse's appearance marked the beginning of and proliferation of life as we know it. Prolific, the early horse quickly spread, perhaps across the land bridge to Asia, Africa and Europe. Millions of years passed and for reasons yet unknown, the horse disappeared from the American landscape, reappearing in the sixteenth century with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors.
Long prior to their reintroduction to the Americas, horses, because of their speed and grace, made racing a sport on the steppes of Asia, in the sylvan settings of Europe and the sands of North Africa. It remains so today.
I often compare the Kentucky Derby to the circus. We tolerate the hideous clowns, the men on stilts and the souvenir hawkers, while waiting, scarcely breathing, for lumbering elephants to appear and finally, the lions and tigers, who though caged, bring us to the edges of our seats in anticipation of a disaster that might befall the lion tamer.
Copyright, July 11, 2016 y Loren R. Schunacher
Photos copyrighted as noted.