For the past fifteen years I've been hitting up the infield, wading thru the seas of random attendees, people watching, and drinking my face off. There is nothing quite like the eclectic crowd that gathers for these events, and regardless if it's Oaks or Derby day that you get down with, the gathering of folks found at either is quite similar. It's one of the only days of the year that I feel comfortable waking up and drinking a beer before breakfast, because that's how our crew rocks it out, but it's all about maintaining the buzz, not killing it.
Since I was a young kid, people watching and observing the diversity around me has been one of my favorite things, and when the crowds that attend Churchill Downs reach the hundreds of thousands you can guarantee to find plenty of that to do. I love to watch the drunks stumble around, the sunburnt try to find shade, and the liquor sick expel their innards all about the scolding hot concrete. Sometimes there's nothing better than catching the ass end of a fight go down, watching men run across the tops of the adjoined port-a-poties while others launch beers their direction with the intentions of maiming them, and hearing the percussion sounds of buckets being beat against with drumsticks in the underground tunnel while exiting the field. It never ceases to amaze me as the late afternoon cloud coverage rolls in and the races approach their end how the grounds look as if there wasn't an existent garbage can to dispose of one's trash, and how even on the clearest of days there can be muddy grass to trek thru and piss puddles ankle deep. Just on the other side of the race track, seated amongst the masses, and shaded behind expensive sunglasses is where the upper middle class and the wealthy harbor their overpriced derby hats and fists full of mint juleps, but here, in the infield is where the common folk thrive, and where the life of the undergrowth lives.
Photo courtesy of Marty Pearl @ Martypearl.com
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