| Photo: Courier Journal |
A NON-TRADITIONAL RUN FOR THE ROSES
And yet the 146th running of the Derby was just plain sad.
The Derby has always taken place during dogwood-blooming time on the first Saturday in May. This year, it was in September.
The Derby always drew fans dressed in classy suits and showy hats. This year, no fans were allowed to sit in the grandstands.
The Derby is always raced by jockeys wearing brightly-patterned silks. This year the jockeys added face masks to their attire.
On this Derby day, I think back to a happier, more carefree time, to the time I joined friends for the 100th running of the Derby. We arrived at the entrance at 4:00 in the morning with coolers of food and drinks. Since we had to wait for Churchill Downs to open, we dozed on blankets laid out on the pavement. Four hours later, we made a beeline for the infield to grab a spot by the rail—a race in itself with other early-risers. What I remember most is a warm sunny day, a crowd of hippies and partiers, a streaker who climbed a flag pole, and the Derby winner, Cannonade.
|Winning Impression, photo: Churchill Downs |
We added a new tradition this year. My husband decided to make burgoo, a traditional dish served at Kentucky racetracks, made with beef, tomatoes, potatoes, mixed vegetables, thyme, sage, sherry and red wine. Imagine a thick hearty stew. Having good ol' comfort food also helped to lift our spirits.
Our traditions make the Derby special, in spite of the changes brought on by COVID, changes that ultimately give all sports a melancholia, a palpable sadness whether it's football, baseball and basketball games or tennis matches or horse racing.
I'm hoping by next spring, the regulations will have been eased and that the 147th Kentucky Derby will be run in the month of May. That there will be grandstands filled with fans decked-out in fancy suits and elaborate hats. That there will be jockeys wearing silks without face masks. Churchill Downs is an elegant southern racetrack and the Run for the Roses should be held as it was conceived, ever so colorful, full of pageantry, and forever steeped in tradition.
À la prochaine!
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