This past weekend’s 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby taught us several things.
For one, it taught us that Nyquist is indeed a dominant racehorse, after many criticized his undefeated record and doubted if he would make it the entire distance in the sport’s biggest race. Nyquist proved those critics wrong, winning by one-and-a-quarter lengths over Exaggerator to take the first leg of the Triple Crown.
The Derby also taught us that interest in the sport is dwindling, if TV ratings are any indication. According to NBC, the actual race portion of the broadcast posted a 9.3 overnight rating, down 14 percent compared to last year’s broadcast of the race. Betting was down, too; but that may be attributed to the unexpected crash of the popular betting website, TVG.
We were also reminded that there is no better place to be in the world on the first Saturday in May than in Louisville, Kentucky. That, we already knew. But the perfect weather and all the beautiful things that came with it made for a friendly reminder of what we’re honored to host here in the Bluegrass each and every year. It doesn’t get much better than the Kentucky Derby.
Outside of the racing and the well-known Derby traditions, KSR learned a little bit more about “The Run For The Roses” and the entire weekend of events that surround it. Those things I would like to share with you today, as I finally look back on a long and exhausting weekend in Louisville. You won’t find this information anywhere else.
Ferdinand’s Ball was a blast, as always.
Our weekend began at Thursday night’s Ferdinand’s Ball, an annual tradition for KSR at the Derby. This was the sixth Ferdinand’s Ball for Matt and me, which we are very thankful for because we usually get invited to parties once and then never again.
Ferdinand’s Ball is, without question, the only place to be on the Thursday night before derby to kick off the weekend.
I will never forgive myself for not bidding on the signed Taylor Swift guitar at Ferdinand’s Ball.
We all miss opportunities in life we’ll always regret. Mine, at least for now, is sitting on my hands during the live auction at Ferdinand’s Ball. A guitar signed by Taylor Swift went for dirt cheap and I wasn’t man enough to speak up and take it for myself.
(Cue Teardrops On My Guitar.)
Marlana VanHoose should sing the national anthem before the Derby.
Marlana sang before Thursday’s “Thurby” races.
Now it’s time she gets the mic before the actual Derby.
Lukasz Obrzut is one of the best people on the planet.
I love Woo for several reasons, and not just because he is seven feet tall. (But that’s one of the main reasons.)
We take Woo to the Oaks every year and every year he is my favorite person to hang out with. Many of you heard him on the radio last Friday before we left for the races, so imagine that for another six hours of the day. He told us so many great stories from his time at UK — with his Polish accent, which makes every story even better — whenever he wasn’t stopping to pose for a picture with a stranger every two to three minutes.
Woo’s long arms are pretty good to have when three large humans need a selfie, too.
Ed at Whirlaway Tavern is an all-world shuffleboard player with no regard for human life when the pucks come out.
This is Whirlaway Tavern on South Fourth Street.
If you go there, you should meet Ed. Ed’s a good guy. He’s lived next door for eight years.
But DO NOT challenge Ed to shuffleboard. He will rip your heart out and eat it as he pours more sand — his own sand that he brought from home — on the table.
There is plenty of entertainment between races in the infield.
For example, four-on-one fist fighting!
Another view from the Kentucky Oaks infield fight. pic.twitter.com/eYPn67aQ4B
— Old Row (@OldRowOfficial) May 9, 2016
Goodnight to the guy in the blue pants. #HeGone
The Porta-Potty Races are still a thing.
It’s as Derby as the Mint Julep and the hat.
The ATMs run out of money.
I put off going to the ATM until late in the day — because, well, I was having fun in our fancy area and didn’t want to go looking for an ATM until I absolutely had to. (Probably should’ve done that beforehand.) Then came time to get serious about the Derby race, so I went on the hunt, through all of the last-standing drunkards, to find some cash.
I tried out two ATMs somewhat near our area and they were both completely empty. A third ATM, located much farther than I cared to walk, was also out of cash on hand.
Can we do better next year, Churchill? I was trying to give you my money but you weren’t able to loan it to me for two minutes.
(Also: Hubby, I still owe you that $100. Thanks for the loan.)
Mark Sanchez carries a cane, a cane that can carry alcohol.
The NFL QB (I assume he’s still on a team, somewhere) showed off his cane flask in this video from TMZ.
In related news, congrats to my good buddies, J.T. and Victor, for making their TMZ debut in the video, alongside Sanchez. I also know the female saying, “Shut the —- up!” to Sanchez, but she’s a Louisville fan and has incriminating photos of me from New Orleans.
Matt’s Trifecta system works.
4th straight year hitting Derby Trifecta. Hope you guys bet it. Didn't pay huge but a win is a win pic.twitter.com/gHRwGwOwNy
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) May 8, 2016
Maybe one year I will bet it with him. Exaggerator across the board did alright for me, though.
The religious protesters have given up.
We were shocked by the absence of those crazy religious protesters who usually flood the streets around Churchill Downs each year. The usual cast of t-shirt and bottled water salesmen were there in full force, but no sight of the man standing on a stool to tell me we’re all going to hell, through his megaphone. Not one lunatic there to tell me who God hates and loves, or that we’re all sinners.
It was quite peaceful for once.
There is a bar on Rodman Street that’s not really a bar at all. In fact, I think it’s a trap house we never should’ve entered in the first place.
If you’ve been to the Derby, you know it’s a madhouse getting out of there. You also know it is in a part of town you probably don’t frequent. (It’s in the hood.)
Well, on our way out of Churchill, a couple of blocks away from the track, we accepted an invitation from two sweet ladies into a building that has seen better days. Inside this building, there was a bar, and on that bar were four bottles of liquor and an aluminum pan with lukewarm, runny Jello shots. Behind the bar: a cash register that had been ripped to shreds at some point in its cash register life, and nothing else.
Naturally, we bought all of the Jello shots — because who turns down Jello shots, right?
Then it hit me: taking melted Jello shots from a stranger, from an aluminum pan, in what could very well be a trap house, is not the way I want to die.
So we left to find dinner.
Momma’s has the best wings you will ever eat in your life.
You have to take my word on this. Ignore the fact I had been drinking all day and would’ve eaten anything at the time. This is real talk. One hunnid, if you will.
We stopped at Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ (I think that’s the full name) after Derby, and Momma’s wings are the best wings you’ll find anywhere. It’s not even close. I’m not sure I’ll ever eat another wing again. I can’t eat another wing again. I want more right now.
Rick Pitino looks severely unhealthy.
But he’s still got it.