I'd like to start off by saying that I really liked Louisville. It's a good sized town, and unlike Charlotte, it's not full of brand new McMansions on every single block. Yet there was still plenty to do, and it didn't really cost a whole lot so my budget was safe.
Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to give my impression of Churchill Downs. It's beautiful. And big. there are so many seats in that place, and the fact that they do sell out for the Derby/Oaks every year is just very impressive to me now that I've been there in person. You can easily tell the old parts and the newer parts. The older sections are wood, painted white and trimed in a darker green. They are well maintained and flow nicely into the new parts which are shinny and new. :)
Smoking is allowed everywhere, and I cannot tell you the number of cigar smokers I saw. While I don't care for the smell, it did make me smile that these people where not ashamed of their smoking and basically struted around very proud that they could do so. I was impressed with the scope of society that was there. Everyone from the dregs to the cream de la cream was there, and they were all in high spirits and just enjoying the day.
I went down to the saddling paddock right before they started saddling up for the first race, and there where a few derby horses 'schooling'. I was right up on the railing and I got to see Convence, Lookin at Lucky, and Jackson Bend. Convence is just a beautiful horse. Not too large in size, but a wonderful dark dappled grey. I'm in love with how he looks (I haven't paid enough attention to be in love with how he runs, but I plan on looking that up this week). Lookin at Lucky surprised me. He's smaller than the other two that I saw, and the other **** that were in the paddock getting ready to race. Yet he can win. He won the 2-yr old Breeders Cup last year. He's #1 in earnings, and with Eskendreyea out (yes, I am very upset about that) him and Syndey's Candy will take over as the co-favorite. Jackson Bend may not have gotten into the derby had Eskendreyea not be injuried. I'm not sure what to think about him. He was fairly nondescript in apperance, but he did have a good size.
The racing was a lot of fun to watch, and Calvin Borel ended up winning 5 of 11 races that day. I would love to do it all again, it was very exciting.
Ok, so yesterday I did dawn at the downs. Let me just say that while the general admission seats offer you an upclose and personal view, Millionaires Row offers you a complete view of everything that is going on. It's fantastic and I would splurge for the extra money to sit up there next time (you can always go down to the general admission if you want to with the Millionaires Row ticket, you are not restricted to only one part). I saw a lot of the derby horses working out, but for the most part they only galloped and I don't really have any set opinions on who my pick is gonna be now that my pick is out. I would however, recommend the experience to anyone. it's $30 and you get a buffet breakfast with lots of choices, and full access to the spectator side of the track. You can really see a lot both inside with all the tv monitors and outside with actually view of things.
It was a fantastic weekend and I'm glad I went.