Before the Oaks and Derby comes Wednesday and Thursday


On the drive down, I get let off with a warning from an Indiana State Trooper for speeding in a construction zone. Admitting fault and having a cute toddler in the back seat obviously helped. I can’t decide at the time if this is a good or bad omen, but ultimately, I think it was a good one.

We got to the hotel, and after a little computer glitch and again being helped by having a cute toddler, we end up with a great, two bedroom, suite on the south end of the building, giving us a beautiful view over the Ohio River and Louisville on the opposite side. For you non-former-Louisvillians, on Wednesday afternoon is the traditional Steamboat race on the Ohio. Once we got settled in, we needed to get the boy out for a gallop, so we headed down to the riverfront to catch the end of the race. The weather was nice, and a stiff breeze was blowing in from the west. An aspiring Jeffersonville mayoral candidate was handing out helium balloons that Auggie got a huge kick out of. We witnessed the Belle of Louisville once again get it’s assed kicked by the other steamboats. We taught Auggie that boats could be identified as “Toot-Toots” which he then said every time we drove over the river over the coming 4 days, very cute. Also around the waterfront were plenty of “quack quacks”, and “big trucks” could be seen zooming over the I-65 bridge.

We finished off our Wednesday evening festivities with a visit to our favorite Greek/Turkish restaurant in all the land, feasting on the best hummus we’ve ever been able to find. We dined in the grape vine covered courtyard all alone. It was great.


Up early to try and get to the track to catch up with Bobby N for admission to the backside. Unfortunately, I call his cell on the way to the track, and he’s over at Trackside where the jockey he represents, Greta Kuntzweiler, is getting ready to work a horse. He promises to be over as soon as possible, but that turns out to be too late as Beth has a scheduled meeting with clients. So instead, we headed up to the deserted 300 level of the clubhouse to watch the Dawn at the Downs works. We didn’t see any Oaks or Derby horses, but Auggie had a great time climbing up and down and around all the boxes where a folding metal chair would cost you a grand in two days time. We caught Tom Amoss being interviewed and Elliot Waldon unfurled in the sunshine watching the action on track. As we were leaving we came upon Derby Museum horse in residence, Phantom On Tour, grazing on a spot of grass behind the clubhouse. Just then Marc calls and asks what we’re doing. “Well, I’m standing here looking at Phantom On Tour grazing on the front-side at Churchill Downs.” “Oh yeah, I remember him. How’s he look?” Phantom On Tour ran 5th in the Derby.

Then it’s off to to Beth’s client meeting, where due to some miscommunication, we were actually an hour late, so we waited around for an hour with Auggie playing in a glass walled conference room in the corporate communications office of a Fortune 500 company. There’s more plasma screens in that place than I’ve seen in an Ultimate Electronics store.

After picking up lunch at a delicious little Italian market/deli, it was time for Beth to get her semi-annual haircut from our old friend Todd. I waited in the car for most of the time because Auggie had crashed out in the car seat. So I listened to Lee Tomlinson and Mike Watchmaker do a call in show on handicapping on the local NPR affiliate. Once the boy woke up, I got to go in and say hello to Todd and see Beth’s fabulous new doo. Nice thing was, we made plans to go back and visit Todd and his wife for the fall meet. Giving Beth a chance for another hair cut, and me a chance to see some more racing at Churchill.

Then, we’re off again down to the riverfront park where we met up with a couple of Beth’s old friends. There’s a great playground down there by the river, and Auggie went nuts with me chasing after him for an hour and half. Afterward, it was home for some rest, and freshening before heading to Judge Roy Bean’s. That’s when we saw our only rain of the weekend.

The Judge was it’s usually festive atmosphere with everything handled with a minimum of effort. Mike and Chris’ surprise gift of champagne was delivered and toasts made to those missing and present. The Pappy flowed freely, as did the wine. The Judge did us right with it’s usual good but not necessarily spectacular meal. Our server was great, and informed us that it was her third time being a part of hosting our festivities with her previous appearances in Monarchos and FuPeg years. We wished our friend Perl had been there, as he definitely would have been making the moves on this one”¦

After dinner, we split cars, and the boys navigated the silver tank down Bardstown road for an invasion of Old Town Liquors. With Marc and Chris headed for the bourbon aisle, Bill scouting the wine, Dave and I headed for the impressive selection at the beer cooler. We picked up some obscure stuff, while JT to our left exclaimed, “All Right, Old Style!” And picked up a couple of 6 packs. (Three of these Old Styles were to be found outside our door on Sunday morning as some house cleaning apparently deemed them to be worthy of being carried home by the Clausses. Needless to say, they ended up a tips for the staff.)

This evening, the party was hosted by Dave and Shannon. Marc and JT were on the bed handicapping, oblivious to the sex show on HBO being watched by everybody else. It was pretty humorous.