A couple weeks ago Rory surprised me with a Mother's Day present with tickets to the Oaks Derby! I was really excited! Oaks is the race that the 3 year old Phillies (girl horses) run the day before the big Kentucky Derby race on Saturday. In the past Oaks day has been the big local party and mostly just locals would go on Friday. But I think as people heard more about Oaks it has become more popular.
There are races all day Friday and Saturday. We went Friday and hung out in the infield. The cheapest tickets to sit in the stands are $250. Some seats cost about $50,000 and there are some even more expensive than that. It's pretty insane. Here is a picture of some of the expensive suites and bleacher seats below.
You can get in the infield for $25 so we did that. :) I guess the tickets are so cheap there cuz you can't see the whole track. They put up more bleachers just inside the track and sell super expensive tickets for those. So people in the infield are behind those bleachers. There are lots of tents and things with people selling food and other things. Most of the families hang out on one of the ends of the track where there is a big grass field you can set up chairs and blankets and watch the track on that end. This is where Rory and I took the picture below. You can see just above us a big screen in the background. These were set up all over the infield so people could watch the race.
Rory and I actually found a pretty cool place to watch. There was a small gate in between bleachers set up on the finishline side of the track. From there we could see the finish line which was pretty cool. I know it's small, but the white pole in the picture is the finish line.
All of the races are different lengths so they set up the starting gates at different points, but on the first race we watched the starting line was right in front of the gate we were watching from. It was really cool to see. This is a picture of the start of one of the races!
Below is a picture of the horses in the final stretch!
We watched 4 races before we couldn't stand the heat and cigar smoke anymore. I swear everyone was smoking something and drinking. The infield is the party place. And the later in the day it gets the more crowded it gets. I can't even imagine how crowded it was on Saturday. It was crowded enough for us on Friday. We ended up being there for about 3 hours. It takes a long time in between races.
Even though we don't gamble, Rory and I would pick a horse each time and cheer them on. :) My horse won 2 out of the 4 races we watched! I really wished I had put money on them. :) But it turns out one of the horses I picked out was the favorite to win anyway so I wouldn't have won that much. I'm sure you all want to know what my winning strategy of picking horses was. Well, I picked the jockey wearing the hot pink shirt. :) Rory and I knew absolutely nothing about any of these horses so I figured if I always picked the same color I was bound to win one right? Plus, Oaks Derby celebrates breast cancer survivors and awareness so I had to go with the color of the day. I was wearing my pink shirt. It was crazy seeing all the ladies in their pink dresses and crazy pink hats. Even a lot of guys were wearing pink dress shirts. (The infield doesn't have to drees up even though some people wear some crazy things. But if you're in the stands or suites anywhere they have a dress code.)
We had a great weekend full of horse races. Saturday we had the races on tv all day while we did things around the house. It was a lot of fun getting into it. It was a great experience to go to Churchill Downs and see this amazing event. Below is a picture of the famous twin spires. I don't know if you can see the years in the middle of the picture but the Derby has been going since 1875. Crazy!
The Kentucky Derby is a great event full of tradition. Who knew horse racing was so exciting? If you're ever in the neighborhood it's an experience you'll not find anywhere else!