Cloudy weather meets ‘bucket list’ spirits at 2022 Kentucky Derby


The clouds were dark, but the bow ties and hats were bright as people crammed into Churchill Falls for the 148th Kentucky Derby Saturday.

Pops of yellow, bright pink red, green and blue peeked out from under sweaters and spring coats as temperatures lingered in the mid-50s in the morning. After a rainy forecast in the week before The Run for the Roses, Derbygoers enjoyed dry but cool weather.

Saturday also marked the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 that Churchill Downs hosted full, unrestricted crowds for the Kentucky Derby. For many it was a joyous return to the track after two strange years of horse racing during a pandemic, but for others like Ed and Anna Jones of Nashville, Saturday was a new and exciting experience.

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When they entered Churchill Downs, the dazzling factor often associated with Derby Day didn’t disappoint them, and they hadn’t even seen a horse yet.

“I’m overstimulated,” Ed said, while Anna enthusiastically explained that “I don’t care what else happens today.”

Her whole day had already been spent just walking through the door.

They were with Kathy and Mark Vogt, who were from Louisville and had been to the Derby a few times before, but having the Joneses with them added some extra excitement to the day.

“It’s fun to see it through someone new’s eyes,” Mark Vogt said.

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Further up Churchill Downs, Joseph and Tomisha Montgomery of Blacksburg, Va., were also visiting the Kentucky Derby for the first time. It was a “to-do list item” for them and Tomisha had been planning her outfit for months. They had been on the track the day before for the Kentucky Oaks, and now that they were a bit more seasoned, they were eager to make bets based on jockeys who had done well yesterday. They also imbibed curiosities and fashion.

Dahlia Tice and her husband, Chris, from Forth Worth, Texas, were here with their friend Stan Fore from South Carolina to help him cross the Derby off his to-do list as well.

“We did very well yesterday in the last break,” said Tice. “And I’m new to this horse racing, so I looked up something on one of these websites and said, let’s do it.”

Laura Murer, who made hats and her friends, Wendy Degood and Kristen Liebig, said the weather was perfect this year and she was excited to return to betting windows. Murer has been addicted to horse racing since her first bet in 2006, when she bet $2 on Lemons Forever and won $250.

“We just cashed in our Oaks tickets and won $1,000 each,” Murer said. “There are a few horses that I like today, like Epicenter. We are going to bet a wheel.

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Jasmine Carter and Candice Richard from Louisville have attended the Derby before, but it had been a few years. They were delighted to be back on the track and, like many, they hoped they would come back victorious.

They were still about seven hours away from knowing how the Kentucky Derby would end, but they couldn’t wait for the starting gates to open.

“It’s the best two minutes of your life,” Carter said.

Columnist Maggie Menderski can be reached at [email protected] Journalist Dahlia Ghabour can be reached at [email protected]


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