How to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby When You’re 398 Miles from Home

  • Wake up. YELL “It’s My Derby!”
  • Brunch. Mimosas optional, but definitely recommended.
  • Begin obsessively reading everything you can find about the race online because your local NBC affiliate cares more about broadcasting the NHL playoffs than the first ten races at Churchill Downs.
  • Make a Not Derby Pie. Resist eating
  • Countdown to NBC Derby coverage via Facebook chat with your best friend while you sit in separate rooms in the same apartment pretending to work while actually reading about Derby Eve parties and watching replays of past races.
  • Fold a Derby hat for your bunny and try to bribe him with lettuce until you get a picture. Keep him from eating roses.


  • NBC coverage starts. Squeal when Bob Costas first appears on your screen. He looks just as suave and debonair as he did during the London Olympics.
  • Wave hello to Derby stalwarts Tom Hammond, Kenny Rice, Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier.
  • Learn that Oxbow likes to have his tongue grabbed, Itsmyluckyday is super vain and that Orb met Jimmy Fallon.
  • Try to pick a winner based on the NBC features about Vyjack’s owner, the Prom King, Goldencents’ 5% owner, basketball coach Rick Pitino, and his jockey Kevin Krigger, and Orb’s trainer Shug McGaughey,
  • Calling a race is hard, Michelle. DUH. Also, how did you not know what a fascinator was until yesterday? Do you not pay obsessive attention to the fashion choices of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge?
  • Cheer on Rosie Napravnik, Gary Stevens, and Kevin Krigger when they’re first mentioned at 4:02pm CST.
  • Learn about muddy track goggle strategy from Jerry Bailey, two-time Kentucky Derby winner. The colts don’t need extra goggles; they have an extra eyelid.
  • Laugh hysterically at the Despicable Me 2 trailer. Become disappointed that you aren’t in Louisville to see the Despicablimp in the skies.
  • Notice that even though umbrellas are banned at Churchill Downs, every NBC broadcaster seems to have one. Martina McBride even had her own umbrella wrangler to protect her hat and the vocal cords during her rendition of the National Anthem.
  • Get goosebumps when Normandy Invasion the horse is shown hanging out with four veterans of the Normandy Invasion in 1944.
  • We’re an hour out from post time. WHO’S IT GONNA BE? Indy has selected Oxbow.


  • Be reminded that we’re one year from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. That’s all Costas, all the time, you guys.
  • JOCKEY PHOTO and Gary Stevens retrospective. I love you forever, Gary. You’ve been my favorite since 1997 and Silver Charm.
  • Yell “THE WALKOVER” as the horses get ready at the gap.
  • Be super impressed by Rosie Napravnik’s cool confidence in her interview with Bob Costas.
  • Smile during the entire feature on Secretariat’s “untouchable” forty year record of 1:59 2/5.
  • Listen and sway to the always sappy, but super eloquent Dan Fogelberg’s “Run for the Roses”.
  • The Walkover begins. Begin hopping up and down in your seat with anticipation.
  • Tip your hat at D. Wayne Lukas, a Wisconsin son, when he discusses his horses, Oxbow and Will Take Charge.
  • Scream “Johnny V.!” when our man Bob interviews him.
  • Discuss Derby cheering strategy with best friend. Decide on list of horses we don’t want to win, and plan on yelling “RUN FASTER” at all of our favorites in the general vicinity of the TV.
  • All the horses are being saddled in the paddock. It’s very exciting.
  • Laugh at the comments on the “graphic excellence” of the race simulation.
  • Call out the name of each jockey you recognize as they walk into the paddock.
  • Applaud University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong’s creative and enthusiastic call for “Riders up!”
  • Clap for the Call to the Post from Mr. Buttleman!
  • Sing and cry during “My Old Kentucky Home”.
  • Immediately fall in love with the Derby winner, Orb, and his trainer Shug, who trained your father’s favorite horse of all time, Easy Goer.
  • Field a phone call from your father in Kentucky expressing nothing but joy.
  • Get even more enthused about the winner of the Derby as time wears on.
  • Chortle at the first article about the race in the local paper.


  • Shout “TROPHY!” for the Trophy presentation in the Winner’s Circle. Grin like an idiot when the owners hoist the trophy over their heads.
  • Have a dance party to “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding because it’s the Derby, and anything can happen.
  • Head out to the Irish pub across the street for a celebratory dinner.

Orb is Kentucky bred, and the owners are Kentucky people, and the jockey races in Kentucky, and you guys, this is the Kentucky Derby. Just the best state. But then again, we’re biased.


One thought on “How to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby When You’re 398 Miles from Home

  1. Hannah, that was beautiful!!! Almost like being there with you – your excitement came through! How fun. And yea for all the Kentuckians! I had read about Orb in the paper this morning. Can’t get any better!
    Love you,
    Aunt Tif

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