Courtesy of Aimee Griffith
Derby Day 2019 reminded me of the fantastic time I had at Keeneland race track in Lexington, KY a couple years ago.
Because you can’t live in Kentucky and NOT see the derby once in your life. Racing horses is one of the biggest things we are legitimately proud of.
A couple years ago my friend and I joined in with other alumni of my college to a racing event at Keeneland. It seemed like a great alternative than going to Churchill Downs, which is always very crowded and further from Northern Ketucky where I live. We hopped on a bus which served beer and lunchboxes, which included turkey sandwich, chips, an apple, and a cookie. One of my old coworkers shouted drunken John Cougar songs at the back of the bus, but most of the elderly alumni weren’t having any of that.
When we got to the race track I looked around and saw people dressed up in their fanciest clothes, dresses and the common big wide hat. I stuck out like a sore thumb wearing tennis shoes, because I knew walking all day would be miserable in heels (ladies, how do you do this on Derby day?) It was raining, and I was sure the race was going to be called off.
To my surprise, the horses still raced in the mud. I had never been a horse fan the way some girls in my high school seemed to really connect with them (I knew a girl in college who only did art about horses). Yet when I saw these creatures, leg deep in mud, pushing against the earth, mud splashing everywhere, I connected with them. Horses remind us to keep going, to be ferocious.
While the horses were lining up, we explored the outside surrounding of Keeneland. Unlike Churchill Downs, which seems unnecessarily bright and big (at least on TV), Keeneland’s building design seemed humble and full of shade. The placement of plants designing the space was very soothing and inspiring.
I didn’t indulge in a mint julep, though I have before on Derby Day. Instead, I got some water and placed my $1 bets on a horse that I liked; it was grey and wild looking reminding me of myself. My horse didn’t win and I lost all of my money, but I will never forget the experience of watching these creatures and connecting to them in that moment. If you visit Kentucky, it is definitely something you should see!
The provided photo is by Aimee Griffith, a Kentucky artist who paints amazing landscape watercolor art. You should check her out at her website here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AimeeGriffith or follow her on Instagram, at @watercolorsbyaimee!