Sunday, May 13, 2007


Marty, here is one from a long ago "Parker" of my vintage. John


A decent ticket, third floor clubhouse, for the Kentucky Derby is now $2,000 unless one is prepared to stand in the clubhouse area in which case a ticket is a paltry $700 which begs the question…how long can one stand for $1,300?
I was standing behind a box containing a bevy of fair ladies who apparently had simply continued partying from the night before yet appeared none the worse for wear. This was just prior to post time for the first race at 11:15AM. They were already into mint juleps. However one attractive lady in a wide brimmed yellow hat apparently found it too early for mint juleps and offered her drink to me. I declined, it was too early for me too. “Please!”, she implored. Well why not, I thought, after all it’s Derby day. It should be mentioned that although much at the Derby is overpriced the mint juleps are excellent value and definitely prescription strength. A warm pleasant glow enveloped me.
Some time later a natural urge sent me to the men’s restroom to wave goodbye to the free mint julep. Mission accomplished, I washed my hands and accepted a towel from the restroom attendant.
“You clean, bro”, he said running his eyes from the tip of my shoes to the top of my hat. Now, “clean” in African American jargon means, well dressed. African Americans frequently approve of my manner of dress. I’m really not sure if this is good or bad, I simply live with it.
“You as clean as dah bode a healt !”, added the restroom attendant with considerable enthusiasm.
Being rated as clean as the board of health definitely warranted more than the customary one dollar pee tip so I slapped two dollars on the tip tray.
The restroom attendant grinned then fished something from his pocket and placed it firmly in my hand, “Foh you boss, I fine dat on dah flo “.
In my hand was a nylon strap, the sort that goes around ones neck and attached to it was a plastic encased multi-coloured card on which was printed:-

Churchill Downs
Kentucky Derby 133
(NBC’s coloured logo)

Eureka and God Bless America, I’d hit the mother lode!
I had in my hands the key to anywhere, perhaps I could even slip upstairs and have tea with Queen Lizzie who was attending the Derby with her husband Phil. But that wasn’t a goal. My goal was the paddock where the horses are saddled then paraded with the jockeys up. Paddock security is usually lax, but not on Derby day. On Derby day security is extremely tight, the paddock is restricted to trainers, owners and select guests and the appropriate credentials are absolutely essential. I needed a trial run but first I needed another mint julep to fire up some Dutch courage. I then light headily waved my media pass and swoosh the security guard swung open the wrought iron paddock gate. It opened for me before every other race too………Derby included.
Moral to the story…………..never say No to a free drink. (PS: I bet the winner too)

Thanks John McC

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