Monday, March 16, 2009

Jockeying for a Better Seat

I grew up an hour and a half from Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, the world's most famous horse race. That's not much longer than it takes me to get to work nowadays. Yet, somehow, in my 20 years living in Kentucky, I never actually went to the Derby.

My parents often threw Derby parties replete with burgoo (see my post on burgoo), booze, big hats, and betting. I think I even won 5 bucks when I was 8 or 9. But I never made that short trek to Louisville for Derby Day.

That's all about to change, my friends! Beth, her cousin Ruthie, Ruthie's husband Steve, and I are taking a long weekend and heading down to the KY! I am unbelievably excited, and, as you can see from the photo above, I have the perfect digs for the job.

See, I believe that Derby-goers, especially native Kentuckians, should dress for the most exciting two minutes in sports. In my mind, I'd be a cross between Tom Wolfe, Colonel Sanders, and some fatalistic Tennessee Williams character. I'll be sipping a mint julep from a silver cup, the sprig sticking out on a slight angle. Beth will be by my side in a large hat, small planets orbiting about it.

After doing just a little bit of research, however, I learned that there are two places you can sit for the Derby: (1) the stands; and (2) the infield. In the stands, everyone seems to fit my utopian notion of the Kentucky Derby (see pictures above). Sadly, the stands cost a lot of money. Money that two government employees lack.

The infield, on the other hand, is relatively cheap: about $40 per person. That's the government employee price! However, the dress code isn't quite the same (see pictures below).

You may think that these are random pictures that I pulled off of the internet. Lollapalooza? Rodeo, perhaps? Outdoor adult entertainment convention? Nope. It is with great sadness that I report that I took these photos directly from the Kentucky Derby's website. These are their representative infield photos.

So, on the one hand, we have royalty, heads of state, movie stars, and the closest thing we have to American aristocracy. On the other, we have . . . well, I'll let the pictures do the talking here.

Can't a classy government employee find a good middle ground at the Derby?

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