Derby Week: Time to Party, Bet, Drink, Wear a Hat and Pick a Winner

Welcome to the best week to be in Louisville all year.

The big Prize, up close and personal

Last night was my favorite bash of the week – the Media Party hosted by Churchill Downs. A full chorus was there to sing My Old Kentucky Home, and there was an elaborate ceremony, complete with armed guards, to display the Derby Trophy.  The gold piece takes hundreds of hours to create, and ” is topped by an 18-karat gold Horse and rider, includes Horseshoe shaped handles, is 22 inches tall and weighs 56 ounces, excluding its jade base.” What I didn’t know is that the public never gets close to it — as I did to take this photo — except for at the Taste of Derby event, held tonight at Bowman Field.

Everybody that’s been to the Derby has a story or two, and I’ve got more than my share. When the Voice-Tribune asked me to write about a few, it was fun to think back about all my experiences — first as a high school senior seeing Affirmed from the infield, as a busboy on Millionaire’s Row, bringing pals and gals to eight consecutive infield parties, working the event as a reporter, and bringing the family to the first turn. You can read all about in the Voice-Tribune right here.

And here’s a programming note here for I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the news, which has been difficult at times. Especially so when the WHAS-TV Great Day Live show had a guest on touting “stilletto fitness,” perhaps the most hilarious segment in local TV history. Then there was more news about our old pal Richie Farmer, who thought it was OK to accept $900 in concrete from a local contractor so he could practice his jumper in his back yard.

So I’m going to start paying attention again, and sharing it with those of you who need something to read while goofing off at the office. I’m encouraging all your favorite writers to amp it up too.

And I’ll be at the Oaks and Derby. For the first time in a while, I picked the winner as soon as the field was announced. It’s #11, Alpha, for a number of reasons. You may know my full-time employer is Alpha Energy Solutions.  It’s my ex-mother-in-law’s name. A fraternity brother, Bob Leidgen, owns Alpha Leasing.

I was listening to Joe Elliott’s radio show yesterday, and heard Billy Reed say he’s pulling for Alpha, because the Horse‘s trainer, Kieran McLaughlin, would be a great story. Godolphin Stable is the stable of Sheikh Mohammad, who has likely spent more money trying to win the Derby, and failing, than anyone. He’s 0 for 7 and due. And, UK fans, jockey Rajiv Maragh will be wearing all-blue silks.

Alpha, the Horse, is attracting the attention of serious handicappers, too. After winning his first two starts of the year, Alpha was 2nd, by a neck, in the Wood Memorial in New York, despite getting cuaght up in early first-turn traffic.  He’s overcome on-track adversity in each of his wins. Early odds are 15-1, a bargain. So bet it all on Alpha.