There’s only one time of year I look forward to in Louisville. Forget Christmas or Thanksgiving, I long for the first Saturday in May. But once the gates close at Churchill Downs and the day-long celebration comes to an end, I’m left with a bittersweet feeling as I count down the days until the fastest two minutes in sports begins all over again.
Thankfully, the Kentucky Derby Museum can help with that long lapse of downtime from fall through winter. I visited the museum last Sunday on opening day of the Fall Meet, as the thought of thoroughbred racing crept in with the out-of-towners landing in Louisville for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships set for Nov. 4 and 5.
As I began the tour of the museum, the first image I saw was a line of race horses stampeding on a giant screen at the stable gate entrance. Then to the left, I was greeted with one of the aspects of Derby I’ve fallen in love with over the years: the fashion.
Giant hats, fedoras and fascinators hung from the walls with captions from famous visitors of Churchill and a few articles of clothing from various celebrities. The class and sophistication of the clothing worn at the track in May is what I absolutely adore.
After admiring the garments displayed at the entrance, I continued through the exhibit, finding myself standing before a giant replica of the Winner’s Circle with this year’s Derby champion, Animal Kingdom, front and center.
With cases of trophies, video replays of Derby victories, the bright jockey silks and horse saddles lining the walls, the surge of memories from Derbys’ past came flooding back in a flash: the beauty and elegance of racing, the thoughts of strangers embracing after a winning bet, mint juleps in hand, and the men huddling together over racing programs as the women show off their finest hats and outfits. It’s what I live for every year, and after walking through the museum, it’s what I relived on Sunday.
I learned just about everything there is to know about the Derby and horse racing from the immense collection of memorabilia inside the museum. But one of the best aspects had to be “The Greatest Race” film. With 360 degrees of visuals in the auditorium on the first floor, you become encapsulated with images of the Derby as you witness the early morning grind of the jockey, fans filling the seats in Churchill and the crowd of people from all across the world coming together to sing “My Old Kentucky Home.”
All I can say, is thank God for Breeders’ Cup, because after visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum, the anticipation and excitement I feel for the event reached a whole other level with six months to wait before the big race. That first Saturday in May always brings a smile to my face. And after visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum last week, I can tell you as I left, that same smile was in place.
For information, visit www.derbymuseum.org.
Churchill Downs, 704 Central Ave.
Monday-Saturday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Adults: $14; seniors (55+): $13; young adults (13-18): $11; children (5-12): $6; children under 5: free
Admission includes a historic walking tour of Churchill Downs.
After the exhibit
Enjoy the Fall Meet racing season through Sunday, Nov. 27.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 502.498.2051.
photos by ASHLEY ANDERSON | Voice-Tribune
Category: Out & About
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).