I’d love to have another opportunity to visit the rolling hills surrounding Louisville, Kentucky, Derby Week or not. The gentility and hospitality of everyone we met matches the area’s beauty, and I could not help but say a thousand times or more, “I’m not in SoFla anymore.”
I’d love to have another chance to spend more time exploring The Bourbon Trail, to learn more about the history of the area and the spirit, and to personally dip a few more Maker’s Mark bottles.
I’d love to have another hour upon hour to spend on the backside of Churchill Downs watching the superstar ponies get their sudsy baths and see Derby contender Hansen roll around in the sandy soil looking for all the world like a giant, white, happy puppy. As it was, I snapped my Oaks Derby favorite Oaks Lily during her exercise run on Thursday. Sadly, she was scratched by Friday.
I’d love to talk more with Graham Motion, trainer of last year’s Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, who could not have been more gracious when he allowed us to snap a photo with him during a quiet Thursday moment on the backside of Churchill Downs. When we saw him post Derby in the Owner’s Lounge, a spot in which we became regulars thanks to our fantastic hosts, we nodded to each other and he waved as I said, “Nice to see you again.” That I was in that lounge for even a second is but one tiny aspect of how special this time was.
I’d love to have another minute or 20 to chat with Louisville sports legend Coach Denny Crum, but I’m happy enough with his labeling me “the rose between us” as we posed for a backside photo seconds before he was interviewed by local TV news reporters.
I’d love to have another look at the Kroger grocery store ladies working on the blanket of roses worn by the winning Derby horse. Who knew they set up shop at a local Louisville supermarket and sewed the roses–one by one by hand–for anyone and everyone to watch?
I’d love to have another time and place to wear the pretty pink hat my great guy bought me at the Taste of the Oaks fundraiser on Thursday night. Pink is the color all wear for the Oaks races on Friday to honor all cancer survivors of all ages.
I’d so much like to have another chance to not feel so shy about wearing a hat and to have bought something bigger and more festive than my cobalt-blue fascinator that I wore on Derby Day itself. Still, it was British-made (a bargain on Ebay), so at least I fit in quite well.
I’d give a lot to have another opportunity to actually talk to Secretariat jockey Ron Turcotte. While killing time between Friday races, we happened upon him near the Kentucky Derby Museum. He was sitting behind a table surrounded by memorabilia of the Triple Crown winner’s made-for-the-movies fame, but we were the only ones standing in front of the table.
“Is this the last one, Ron?” asked someone.
“Yes,” he said.
“Last what?” we asked.
“Last chance for him to sign something,” someone replied.
We bought a photograph, paid 20 additional dollars, and watched as a racing legend signed a personal autograph to my great guy and me, adding “With love.”
I’d love to have another few hours to people and celebrity watch in the owner’s lounge at Churchill Downs, and I am so grateful to our hosts for giving us carte blanche passes there for both Friday and Saturday. By the end of the Derby events, I felt quite attached to the fantasy of owning a racehorse, and thus latched on to my favorite Derby pony Daddy Long Legs, because what’s not to love about that name. I know, he came in last, if he even crossed the finish line at all. As I took this photo, I noted he was shiny with sweat and walking the biggest walk of his life without his pony pal alongside him–the only horse to walk that long walk alone.
I’d gladly welcome another do-over chance to visit our favorite betting window located next to the crudely labeled and largely and forever empty I.R.S. window that we could only dream of having to visit, to make sure my great guy put “I’ll Have Another” on our long list of bets for race 11.
We’d won much on the races leading up to the Derby race, and we placed all of those winnings on a dozen or so horses that somehow–let’s blame the juleps–excluded number 19. And we call ourselves bartenders…even if the “another” referred to a cookie.
I’d give just about anything to have another five days to spend with restaurant guests who became friends, who opened their homes and hearts to my great guy and me and treated us as family, who also welcomed RG Son and his girlfriend, and who gave each of us a truly unmatchable experience of a lifetime.