Derby Day

Saturday, May 03, 2014

For as far back as I can remember, the Kentucky Derby has been the epitome of summer. I can clearly remember that Saturday evening in May around 6:00, just a few minutes before post-time. My dad would go out to the car in the driveway and turn the radio on to listen to the race. It would take him a few minutes to find the scratchy AM station that broadcasted it. He'd wind the windows of the car down and we would come out into the yard to listen. Mom would be in the kitchen, cleaning up supper with the window open. We would yell, "It's about to start!"

I remember scurrying across the gravel driveway in my bare feet, trying to get in the car before the race started. It was always a heart-pounding moment, because you never quite knew when the announcer was going to yell his excited "Annnnd they're off!" It would sneak up on you, so you had to be listening. We would always have favorites picked out. We read about them in the newspaper in the weeks ahead and picked out the one we thought would win. Our theories were based on important factors like which name we liked best or which jockey wore our favorite colors. We would all sit deathly quiet during the race. There was no cheering and encouragement going on. Just anxious quietness as we listened with our eyes glued to the car radio, as if we could actually see it happening.

I was never a huge horse lover, so it's kind of surprising that the Kentucky Derby was such a big moment for us growing up. Maybe it had something to do with growing up near the birthplace of Secretariat. I think a lot of it had to do with my undying love for the book Seabiscuit. Horse lover or not, that book got me hooked on the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing. I had the opening paragraph memorized, I read it so many times. Seriously, it couldn't have been less than 20 times. I watched the movie almost equally as much. My infatuation with horse racing has subsided a little over the years, but that book is still up there in my top 3 and the Kentucky Derby still makes me nostalgic. I still listen to it on the radio every year. After the fact, I might go back and watch it on YouTube or something, but when those two minutes are actually happening you'll find me sitting in the driveway with my eyes glued to the car radio.


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  1. I've never watched/listened to the Kentucky Derby, but this makes me want to! I also haven't read Seabiscuit, but I have read Unbroken and figure if Seabiscuit is just as good, I should read it to. This is a sweet tradition that I want to start!

    1. In my opinion, Seabiscuit is better than Unbroken. Highly recommend!


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