Nora’s Kentucky Derby recap

We love Derby! We’re so grateful to be asked to come, and to support a wonderful cause like Blessings In A Backpack. For one wonderful weekend in May I can support that cause, enjoy an amazing tradition, and have nothing but fun doing both.

Bruce, our daughter-in-law Kat and I arrived in Louisville on Thursday afternoon to glorious weather–and our traditional stop for lunch at the Dizzy Whiz with our pal and escort–the delightful Kathy Conway, and our cop for the weekend, the fabulous Brian.

Then it’s off to the hotel, to unpack, to unwind before suiting up for Club Night. This is our ninth Derby, so it’s a lot like a family reunion, catching up with friends we only see once a year. A poker tournament is a big part of Club Night, but since we’re lousy at Texas Hold ‘Em, we opt to just hang out, reconnect with those friends, enjoy the spread.

Friday is Oaks Day–for the guys in our group. Our son Jason arrives bright and early (he had work on Thursday). He and Bruce dress up for a day at the track–and looked pretty spiffy! Kat and I head out with our Kathy for a girl day. Manis and pedis–and I opt for bright green toes to match my Derby dress. More fun! And fun, too, as we’ve been going to this salon for several years, and can catch up with everyone there.

Off to a pretty ladies lunch–champagne for me!–relaxing, talking, then to the big part of the afternoon. Shopping. I know when I spot a bag I HAVE to have the minute I walk into my favorite store in Louisville, it’s going to be a good day. Following tradition, I find a cool pair of shoes for Bruce, and Father’s Day is now taken care of.

Back to the hotel where the talented Sarah will give us gala hair. The men come back–my filly didn’t come in–but they had as good a time as we did.

Now it’s get glam time for Unbridled Eve’s fabulous gala. The men look so handsome–but I have to say my Kat is just awesome. Kathy and her equally handsome son–in his ROTC uniform–are joining us for the evening.

BW and I walk the Red Carpet–also fun but always just a little odd for me considering I spend most of my time in pjs or sweats in front of a keyboard. But tonight’s special, and again for a wonderful cause. It’s fun to see what everyone’s wearing, too see the beautifully decorated venue. It’s such a happy weekend, and it pumps you up to be around such good, positive energy.

The silent auction benefits Blessings In A Backpack, and I’m happy to bid on items that catch my eye. Even happier when my bids hold up on several. We don’t stay too late–tomorrow’s the big day!

And it dawns chilly, rainy, windy. But we’re not going to let that dampen our spirits. It’s time for hats! Mine is made–as it is most years–by Hats By Penny–and this year is the best yet. I’m in love with it. I’m also glad I have a reasonably warm jacket to go over my spring green dress. I needed it.

There’s really nothing like seeing the Downs, each and every year. Nothing like the look and feel of it, the sounds of it, and all those happy people braving the rain to be a part of this first Saturday in May.

More familiar faces, more hugs–a challenge with big hats–and the incredible sight of the track, the sound of the horses, the pageantry.

The betting!

My luck is down. Race after race I can’t pick a horse to save me. I’ve had some tips on the Derby race, and consider all of them. I put a little on Goldencents–a local favorite, and some on Rosie, the female jockey. But Orb catches my eye, so I decide to put a chunk on him across the board.

You can actually feel the sizzle as the big race approaches. And the rain stops; the sky lightens a little. Everyone’s buzzing now, and piling out onto the terrace to wait and watch. The minute the gates open I forget–as I always do–the bet. It’s all about the horses, the incredible beauty of them, the speed–even on the sloppy track–the thunderous sound. Everyone cheers, shouts, whistles–it’s a wall of noise, and in that moment I don’t care who wins. I just want to watch the majesty of the moment.

But I do see a horse coming in from behind. Who is that? Just look at him, he’s glorious. I don’t realize until right before the finish it’s Orb. I pull for him then as much, probably more, due to his magnificent run than the bet.

Even when it’s done, the buzz continues. Cheers and more cheers–from winning bets and losing ones. I go inside to watch the race again on the TV, hear the announcers as that wall of sound during the race blocks everything else.

Then I cash in. Thank you, Orb!

We stay for the last two races–for the fun and to give traffic a chance to calm. The Surrounding games have loads to offer the gambler, it seems I’m solicitated just as much as online, things like “ CompareTheBets’ List of Promo Codes” can be heard from well dressed young men and such… But I remain focused on my current luck, and I hit the next two races as well. It’s fun to win, but the real thrill is Derby, and everything surrounding it.

18 thoughts on “Nora’s Kentucky Derby recap”

  1. So glad to get this year’s Derby travelogue. Sounds like you and the family had a wonderful time. Any chance we could see photos?


  2. Hi Nora, it is so nice to read how your family and you have a great time at the Derby. I was visiting my son on Saturday and took time out to watch the race. My son picked Orb as well (no betting though) and I picked Revolutionary, my husband picked It’s My Lucky Day, not sure what place it came in though. Can’t wait to see The Preakness next, maybe we will see if Orb comes in as the triple crown this year.

  3. Nora glad you had such a wonderful time in our great city. Too bad for the rain but you never know what kind of weather you get in KY in the spring. Your hat was to die for and you and your hubby looked great!! Awating your next great book!! Happy Spring Happy Derby!!

  4. Sounds a lovely time – so foreign for me – and I just love the sound, and all the images it suggests, of “Blessings In A Backpack”.

    So glad you all had a great time and had this chance to spruce up a bit. Jason always keeps that my-mum-made-me-wear-this-suit but Kat looked oh so lovely. So did you and Bruce. You all look Happy, Healthy and Joyfull!

    Thank you for sharing the fun with us.

  5. Thank you for taking us to that wonderful event. We have the Meadows Racetrack about rwo miles from my home. This is a harness racing track which hosts The Adios. Very enjoyable to attend, but of course nothing like the Derby to which you just transported all of us. Thank you so much for sharing, and please share your photos.

  6. What a great hat! And a wonderful recap of the weekend. I was afraid that the occasional tales of your travels and adventures would be a thing of the past; I’m so glad to see that the tradition is still going on.

  7. Thanks for the recap. Loved, loved, loved your hat and dress. Glad you went for Orb at the last minutes. I was for Rosie as I went to school with her uncle. She did good.

  8. Thanks, Nora, for sharing the fun of Derby weekend with us. Your hat is amazing and beautiful and green is definitely your colour. Your son is handsome, and your daughter-in-law is gorgeous. You & your hubby were a knockout. All in all, a beautiful picture!

  9. Fabulous hat, Nora! Nice pictures on FB. Thank you for the recap of your trip and pictures.

  10. Thanks for sharing your wonderful weekend. Sounds like you had a great time. The photos were great. Your hat was fantastic….green certainly suits you.

  11. I am a Kentucky girl and love our Derby traditions. I love that you keep coming back to enjoy the festivities and always look forward to seeing your pictures. Thank you for sharing with us. Maybe one year you will do a book signing while you’re here!!!

  12. Just reading that made me giddy! I can’t imagine being there! The Derby is definitely on the Randy & Ana’s Top Ten list of destinations.
    Green is my favorite color, so the outfit & the hat = WIN! I loved the whole ensemble!
    And how fun that you get to enjoy that with members of your family. Seems even more exciting to share it that way!

  13. Wonderful. We put our bets on Orb too because our ten year old reminded us he was already ranked #1, Lol. We love to play the obvious game. Smiles!!

  14. Nora, I will have to remind the DD Debby to tell you next time we see you about her two rescue horses. Last year she decided that she wanted horses again. She found two thoroughbreds and adopted them. The first one she feels was fate. his name was Slew and my bil Steve uses Slew 1 as his vanity licence plate name as his name is Steven Lewis and the 1 for a play on words but Slews last name was Wildcat and she just happened to live on Wildcat Road in Front Royal at the time. She had him trailered to the barn and began to look for a companion for him. She found his cousin. Adopted him and then proceeded to look up their ancestry. Slew, as you might guess is a descendant of Seattle Slew but wait we’ve got more… He is also related to Man-O-war and Secretariat as is his cousin who is a month younger than Slew. They are the sweetest and most beautiful creatures ever. Unfortunately they are not runners. That is why she has them. No one wants thoroughbreds that can’t run but for pets? They are wonderful. I saw what you said about the beauty of the Derby horses. They are a delight to see. Oh and btw they were FREE!

    ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
    (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * Annie*

  15. I’m a little late. Nora, I thought about you while watching the Derby. One of my favorite books is “True
    Betrayals. I’ve read it at least 3 times. The Derby was so exciting this year. Always a favorite with us since
    my mother was a native of Kentucky. I grew up loving horses. We had a good sized orchard next to our home in the small town of Oakdale, CA. I was in love with Roy Rogers and loved watching his movies.
    I tried to talk my parents into buying me a horse so I could be a cowgirl. “We can keep it in the orchard and
    build a fence around it.” Just couldn’t talk them into it. I’m reading alot of your older books since retiring.
    Just finished Black Hills. It had me so tensed up, I had to keep setting it down toward the end. I just knew
    Baby was going to save her. Now reading Genuine Lies. Thank you, Nora for your beautiful words.

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