Neil Howard displayed the lilies from the Kentucky Oaks garland, won by his filly SECRET STATUS, in his office window. Last year it was the Hilfiger blimp, this year's unusual blimp was from Monster.com. Other aerial displays featured skywriting of a marriage proposal, the perennial Goodyear blimp, and a banner advertising Deja Vu, the local strip joint.
The fashions were varied as usual, from a 10 gallon hat to very chic owners ready for the winner's circle.
The crowd on the backside was about half the size of recent years because of a new policy requiring special passes. This made the atmosphere much quieter and more relaxed for the barn parties. Angel Montano always has a big party at his barn, and Paul McGee had his traditional pig roast.
We always have to take a picture of the twin spires of course. Another tradition is the horseshoe tree which expanded this year to include derby hats.
The area in the middle of the backstretch right next to the rail is always jam packed full of partiers, while the barns in the back remain fairly quiet. Sam Hatfield used his mom's car as a recliner at Pat Byrne's cookout.
As the big race neared, people started lining the paths from the barns to the track to watch the Derby trainers and horses walk over to the paddock. Fusaichi Pegasus made his handlers stop for a moment so he could take it all in (left). The Deputy also looked slick and ready as he walked over, but Fusaichi Pegasus proved how special he is by winning the Derby in effortless fashion, while The Deputy didn't run a lick.
Todd Pletcher looked pretty serious right before the Derby. Of his four entries in the race, Impeachment finished third and More Than Ready finished fourth. John Kimmel's Wheelaway (#14), the lone grey in the 19 horse field, made a good showing in the Derby.
The two entries of United Arab Emirates' Godolphin Racing ran pretty good in the Derby. We saw Curule walk over to the paddock, then saw him in the post parade, very calm and collected despite the loud throng of people in the infield, and having no pony to accompany him. Pony horses are customary here for the post parade, but not in some other countries. Jockey Marlon St. Julien rode in his first Derby aboard Curule.
The American horses always go to the post with ponies, including War Chant (#8), More Than Ready (#9) and Captain Steve (#7).
The most amazing Derby Day sight (and sound) on the backside is always the moment when the mob of derby horses come up the backstretch and round the third turn. Hal's Hope tried to steal the race by leading through 6 furlongs in 1:09 and change before he ran out of gas. We never saw the eventual winner as he snuck up quietly along the rail to find a hole through the throng.
The horses are a blur as they round the third turn, but we did catch a glimpse of The Deputy (#10), War Chant (#8), and eventual 2nd place finisher Aptitude (#5). While Fusaichi Pegasus was sneaking up the rail, Aptitude went to the outside.
The finish of the race was visible to us only on the infield Jumbo Tron, with Fusaichi Pegasus winning by two lengths under a hand ride from Kent Desormeaux!