The long-awaited Kentucky Derby post is finally here… a month and a half later. This truly was the trip of a lifetime. It’s pretty much guaranteed that I met three-fourths of the population Louisville and gained 10 pounds from all the food and alcohol. I can not thank John, Dewayne, and Leigh enough for allowing me to join them!
Thursday I arrived mid-day and we went directly to Leigh’s parent’s house, where we loaded up the car before moving to the hotel. Jean and Maynard saw us off and we promised to be back on Sunday for supper. After unloading the many hats and suitcases of our finest, we proceeded to the liquor store to stock up. And stock up we did!
On our way to dinner we stopped to see Harriet, a good friend of Jean’s. Harriet used to be in charge of the ticket assignments for the Derby, so people from all over the world know her. She is currently battling breast cancer and was voted to be one of the survivors in the Survivors Parade at the Oaks.
That night we ate dinner at Napa River Grill, where they have the world’s best pepper-grinder and bathroom doors made of cork. Leigh and I ordered the same thing: berries and brie salad with the lamb entree special. We started with Cakebread wine and then moved on to something else that was equally delicious. The meal was great, and the company even better.
Kentucky Oaks is the companion event to the Derby, with many traditions of its own. Friday we dressed in pink and made our way to Mark and Kelly’s (high school friends of Leigh who are now married) for a breakfast feast. In this case, a picture is worth a thousand calories plus.
With full bellies and mimosas to go, we were ready for a day at the race track. Leigh taught me to bet and then put me in charge of the “show pool.” This started a terrible habit of only going to the $50 betting window… needless to say I got spoiled.
That evening we had yet another feast at Mark and Kelly’s, but unfortunately I don’t have a photo with which to make you jealous because I was too busy eating. After unloading our bags, we admired the 20+ julip glasses on Mark and Kelly’s kitchen counter. I would try to defend this with the fact that the glasses were between 6 of us, but Kelly didn’t drink much, and the glasses don’t account for the beer that we had too.
Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, it was the day we had all been waiting for, the day we had all been planning for. Countless emails were sent about outfits and hats. Leigh, Dewayne, and John even got together in New Orleans for a weekend of shopping!
Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, and it was rain, rain, rain in the forecast. Although John was disappointed that he would not be wearing his seersucker suit, Leigh and I made the executive decision to wear jeans and boots instead of dresses and suits.
Mark and Kelly met at our hotel and we started with brunch at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Louisville. People were dressed to the nines and we stroll in looking like a bunch of hillbillies. The jealousy was written on their faces, and some even told us how smart we were. Later that day I looked at Leigh just after a huge gust of cold wind and told her how happy I was about our decision.
The day went pretty much the same as before, only with many more julips consumed. At the end of the day I think our glass count was 37. Leigh and I did some betting together, but that only lasted for a couple races because for some reason as we consumed more julips, our concentration began to fail. After the most exciting two minutes in sports, we loaded up Mark’s vehicle with our group and the six that we picked up – Harriet and her crew. Leigh, Kelly, and I sat on ice chests in the trunk area and the rest crammed into the seats. Needless to say, it was an interesting ride…
That night we ate at Limestone. I decided that it was martini time and John had the most disgusting cocktail I’ve ever tasted. As we moved on to wine, we continued to wait for our food. Some sort of catastrophe must have taken place in the kitchen because we waited for at least an hour, and no one in the restaurant had any food. By the time our food was served I was half asleep at the table and proceeded to chew with my eyes closed. (As embarrassing as this is, I know that if I did not include the story, Dewayne or John would write their own version in the comments.)
Sunday was a day of recovery, laundry, and pasta at Jean and Maynard’s. I’m not sure how we did it, but we somehow consumed more wine and bourbon. Monday was spent touring the grounds of Claiborne Farms and the Wild Turkey distillery, then we ate dinner that night with Leigh’s brother and his family.
Tuesday we stopped to see Harriet once more before leaving and then John and I were dropped at the airport to return to reality. I’m not sure I can ever attend the Derby again, because this trip can not be topped. I have been spoiled with good food, starbucks served to me every morning while I got ready, box seats on the finish line, and only placing bets at the $50 window.
Thanks again to Jean & Maynard, Harriet, Mark & Kelly, and especially to John, Dewayne, and Leigh!!