One Great Season
There are so many things to love about the Kentucky Derby, which renews itself for the 137th time at Churchill Downs in Louisville on Saturday. But here are five things we hate about it:
The Weather — Ask anyone in Louisville about Derby weather and you'll either get a roll of the eyes or a laugh. It could be 70 and sunny all week long, but on the first Saturday in May, picturesque weather is a long shot. We've endured sleet, snow and even tornado warnings ... and that's just within the last 10 years! It's a shame that at an event so widely known for its stylish spectators, the clothing of choice often becomes a parka or poncho.
REVIEW: Looking Back at Kentucky Derby 136
The Demise Of The Derby Festival — When I was a kid, I couldn't afford a Derby ticket. Not even one in the infield. So, the two weeks leading up to the Derby were as big for me as a young person in Louisville as the race itself. More than a decade ago, someone came up with the idea of kicking off a the two-week Derby Festival celebration with an over-the-top fireworks display. Eventually, they added an air show to the event. That's about as innovative as the Festival has gotten in the last 25 years. For years, one of the largest events was a boat race between a boat with an engine and one with a paddle wheel ... and for years, people believed the results were not fixed? And while there are some great events like a hot air balloon race and mini-marathon, there are various small events that few people attend anymore. This once great idea is facing extinction as we all grew to know it.
IMAGES: The Hot Girls Of The Kentucky Derby
Pretentiousness — Horse racing is known as the sport of kings because of the power and affluence associated with those in the industry. Kings, queens, sultans and sheikhs can be found around Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Celebrities (mostly B-list) are a dime a dozen in Louisville during Derby week. The rich and influential usually converge on Millionaire's Row to view the Run for the Roses. And, then there are local "thousandaires." It's amusing to watch people you know act as if they are from the upper crust, knowing they are nothing but leftover crumbs in the societal hierarchy. That's why the infield is endearing to a degree. It's real people being themselves and having no qualms with their place on the social ladder.
2 Minutes? — There are so many inappropriate jokes that could be made here filled with innuendo and bad puns. We at OGS like to keep it classy, as you know. So, let's just say all the anticipation, the hype and the fanfare ... end abruptly. I'm not a big fan of something ending so quickly after it begins.
It Only Comes Once A Year — For this hometown boy, it is one heck of a party. It's the one day of the year Louisville actually matters outside the city of Louisville. I just wish I didn't have to wait 12 months to do it over again (see also Christmas, Memorial Day and the season premier of "The Office").
Ben Jackey is an Emmy Award-winning former television reporter. Click here for his bio and an archive of his previous OGS stories.