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Kentucky Derby

April 01, 2010

By WAA member Jann Smith ‘71

Badger alumni traveled to the Kentucky Derby with the Wisconsin Alumni Association in Spring 2010. Here’s a diary of memories photos from the trip, from Jann Smith '71, along with a photo slideshow from our own Angie Nash.

I signed up for the Derby trip as I thought this might be my one chance to go, and particularly to be with fellow Badgers who shared an interest in horses. My hometown of Aiken, S.C., is a thoroughbred training center and we've had many Derby, Preakness, and Belmont winners.

Wednesday, April 28
I drove up to Asheville, N.C., and spent most of the day re-visiting the Biltmore Estate. Gorgeous as all the flowers were in full bloom.

Thursday, April 29
Drove on up to Lexington, Ky., just in time for rush hour downtown. Upon arrival at our hotel, guests were greeted by ladies in full Southern belle dress, bearing trays of small mint juleps. A very nice reception was held for us that evening with lots of good food and opportunity to meet everyone. (I actually won the door prize of a special fancy bottle of 136th Derby Woodford Reserve; very tasty, I might add.)

A couple I met on the WAA 2006 trip to Sicily, and a lady I met on the WAA 2009 trip to the Amalfi Coast joined me on this trip — wonderful to see them again. After the dinner, a few of us roamed the historic area of Lexington just west of the hotel (Mary Todd Lincoln houses, etc).

Friday, April 30
Up early to take our bus to Keeneland Race Track, where we had an excellent breakfast at the track kitchen, followed by a tour of the facility — beautiful place. Then, we went over to a thoroughbred training center where we got to see horses being “breezed.” After that we were off to the Buffalo Trace Distillery, where we had a fine tour about the bourbon-making process and a tasting. Then onward to Hurricane Hall where the mares and their new foals were out in the pastures. The babies were so very cute and frisky. One foal had already figured out that if he stayed by the fence, all the tourists would pet him.

The last visit of the day was to Old Friends Farm. This organization rescues retired race stallions that might otherwise have a dire end. We had a good tour, saw many horses up close and got to feed them carrots. Back to the hotel and several of us took Flat Bucky out for dining in Lexington.

Saturday, May 1
Yikes! Thunder, lightning, and torrential rain at 6 a.m. Not a good sign for Derby Day, but we all got on the bus and headed out. The rain did let up by the time we got there. We found our seats and then roamed around. There are 10 races held before the actual Derby.

Many Badgers did take advantage of the betting windows and some were successful. If I had bet on the Derby, I'd had 1-2-3… oh well.

Some of us socialized under the grandstands where the food/drink/shops and paddocks were located. Very good mint juleps. Lots of very fancy hats to look at, including those of our Badgeresses.

The sun came out just in time for the big race and it was very exciting to see the horses come out of the start gate. The track was like melted peanut butter. All in all, a very good trip and I'm glad I went. Met lots of interesting people and had a great time.

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