First Kentucky Derby
I guess I have a little Derby fever of my own. The Arkansas Derby brought it on.
I won’t be attending the Kentucky Derby, and that’s OK; I got to cover 25 and have some great memories.
My first was in 1982. Rex Nelson, who worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette then, and I drove to Louisville and stayed with his aunt and uncle, who were gracious hosts and taught me something I have never forgotten.
There is no such thing as a good Mint Julep.
They served them in silver goblets and still tasted like sugar, water, bourbon with mashed mint, which sounds better than it tastes.
You buy them at Churchill Downs for the souvenir glass, not the drink.
Rex and I drove around taking every souvenir the city hung, such as signs that said “No Parking Here on Derby Day.” Beautiful cardboard signs that never made it home.
We drove around Churchill the night before the Derby and it was like a huge street party with hundreds of vendors and thousands of people wandering around.
Our interest was any of the horses because Hostage, winner of the Arkansas Derby, was injured and didn’t race.
In those days press parking was about 50 feet from the press elevator. Today it is a half mile away at Papa John’s Stadium.
In those days it cost $2 to get in the infield, today it is closer to $50.
The favorite was Air Forbes One ridden by Angel Cordero. He broke third and stayed there until he hit the wall and finished seventh.
Gato Del Sol, who had one victory to his name (his maiden race) and that took three tries, broke next-to-last and coasted there for a mile had a clear path down the stretch. Eddie Delahoussaye guided him home and paid $44.40.
When asked what Gato Del Sol meant, his trainer Edwin Gregson laughed and said he didn’t know, “I guess roughly translated it means cat in the sun.’
Not that it mattered, Gato Del Sol didn’t win again until the Cabrillo Stakes for 4-year-olds, and he retired at age 6 with just seven wins in 39 starts.
That was the most starts by a Kentucky Derby winner since Dust Commander ran 42 times.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.