Kentucky Derby

5/13/2012 Sunday 8:55 am

Glenda and I went to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby last weekend. The Derby was on Saturday, but we came in to visit with our friend Steve Mattingly on Wednesday - he took us to Churchill Downs, and treated us to some box seats! - on Thursday. That's when this shot was taken.

The reason we were there? My mom had a big birthday last year and my brother and sister (and their respective families) and Glenda and I arranged a little surprise birthday party where we all showed up - somewhat unannounced - at her house. As part of the celebration, we presented her with a group trip to the Derby, something she's always wanted to do. Here she is in Derby attire.

Glenda and I went to the Kentucky Oaks on Friday with Mom, Bob and my cousin Laura. Mint Juleps!

And here are the ladies from the grandstand on Derby Day!

My sister, Sarina, and her husband David came too. This is not Sarina. This is, however, her daughter Penelope - one of two marvelous children (the other is Garrett, whose first name, I like to think, is modeled after my own middle name, Gerritt, though they didn't quite nail the spelling!).

Getting as close as possible to the action!

(sorry for blurry - it was an exciting and dynamic moment!) Ok, so I know what everyone wants to know: "did you win?" I'm going to go with "yes!" We won lots and lost lots. I think, as a family, we about broke even. Glenda and I had a particularly big win on race 10 of Derby day (the race before the big one). We bet on "Little Mike" "$2 across the board" which means $2 to win, $2 to place, and $2 to show... $6 total. But we misspoke and said "$6 across the board" resulting in a total of $18 bet! We were depressed, because "Little Mike" was a long shot, and we were only betting on him because his name reminded us of our friend Mike Light! We were depressed, that is, until Little Mike won and we made $144! We (G&I) picked zero winners on the Derby itself, but Cousin Laura bet on "I'll Have Another" to win and, lo and behold, against the odds, IHA won the big race! So that netted Laura a tidy sum indeed! In this shot mom has won $.60! But you get your bet back as well, so she's holding $6.60 here. An important symbolic win, though, since this was the very last race of Derby Day, race 13 (there were 2 more after the "big one").

I'm not gonna lie, though. The Derby is not all hats and mints juleps in fancy silver cups. It's a wild, wild scene. Here is just the smallest of tastes!

Glenda met a guy on the plane over, chatted him up (as only Glenda can), and by the end of the conversation he told her that if we wanted to do a Bourbon tour, we should go to Heaven Hill on Sunday, where his wife would take good care of us. He said he'd tell her we might come...

...well we came, and he had told her! We were there near the end of the day, and waiting in line to pay for a spot in a tasting, when a lady bearing a name tag with the guy-from-the-plane's wife came up to the kiosk next to the check-in lady. Glenda, of course, made the connection and then... wow, what followed was seriously fabulous! The lady took us out of line, gave us a 15 minute personal intro, and then instructed us to wait until the scheduled tasting was over. Then she took us into the private bar herself and we got to taste some unbelievable, rare and precious Bourbons while hearing amazing stories well past closing time. Very special indeed.

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