The Kentucky Derby, the longest continual sporting event in the country, in its excess of alcohol, gambling and carefree spirit, is an environment of wide acceptance where debutants, blue-collar locals and the 1-percenters can come together to cheer in exuberance and unison, “Go, baby. Go!”
THE WEEKEND WARRIOR
“The selling point of the Derby is that it allows the common man to feel like an aristocrat,” said Louisvillian Ed Vanhorn, 26, who attended race day while playing host to several out-of-state Derby neophytes.
“I brought my friends from South Carolina because there is a lot of pageantry surrounding the horse racing and the way the people dress, so I wanted to bring them into an environment that is so unusual,” Vanhorn said, and added his friends had never experienced the sour bite of a mint julep.
Vanhorn said that it's the people who make the Derby, not the allure of winning big.
“What makes Derby so special is not the horse racing itself, but the community,” he said. “Frankly, I wanted to expose them to this environment.”
Vanhorn said Derby provides a special escapism that is unique for a sporting event.
“The idea is that common men, for just one day, can feel special in their own right, can bet on horses, can be among a community of similar people, but, at the same time, are so unique.”
Even in the elbow-to-elbow crowd, Santana Jones, of East Louisville, stood out in his all black attire that exuded cool.
A wide-brimmed hat with tilt positioned just right sat on his head, but his rare boots were the gem of his wardrobe.
“These are alligator riders,” Jones said proudly. “I try to stay dapper all the time, but I step it up for Derby,”