Saving 2nd Base

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Yesterday my wife and I went to the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks. Known locally as "Louisville's Day at the Races," the Kentucky Oaks is arguably the second most important race in the state. Yesterday's race attracted 116,046 people - a record for the Oaks. For comparison, the record attendance for the Kentucky Derby was 163,628 in 1974.

Actually, we we're supposed to go to the Kentucky Derby today, but opted out after seeing a forecast of 3 to 4 inches of rain. So we decided to go to the Oaks instead, a first for both of us. No doubt the weather situation played a role in setting yesterday's attendance record.

As with last year's Kentucky Derby, my wife was again able to score a couple of press passes for both of us, meaning we were free to go just about anywhere at Churchill Downs.

Here are a few photos from the track yesterday:

After three tries from this location near the media broadcasting area over the last three years, I finally got a good race action shot with the Twin Spires in the background.

Speaking of the Twin Spires, Churchill Downs is doing its best to diminish the historical significance of this horse racing icon. Several years ago they built the towering club house which has dwarfed the Spires. Then, over this past winter, they added stadium lights so that they can run races at night. For traditionalists, this has been a little disappointing to say the least. Here's a look at the Twin Spires from 1901:

Here's what 116,000 people looks like:

You may have noticed a lot of pink in this photo. The reason for this is that Churchill Downs has declared the Kentucky Oaks to be a "Pink Out" day in order to raise awareness for breast cancer. Churchill Downs donates a dollar for each ticket sold to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

The "Pink Out" leads me to the title of this blog. In conjunction with rasing money and awareness for breast cancer, there was a group selling t-shirts with the "Saving 2nd Base" moniker. I'll let you figure out the connection.

Winners Circle. Only Derby winners are allowed here:

A scene from the Paddock, near the front of Churchill Downs:

One of the betting windows on millionaire's row. Yea, they took all my money yesterday...

One final historical note: The track is named for John and Henry Churchill who leased 80 acres of land to their nephew, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of explorer William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. Clark, Jr. launched the first Kentucky Derby in 1875.

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smoky scout said...

Great post and terrific photos!

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Thanks, Sharon!