Derby Stories

Charles Napravnik New Jersey

My daughter's riding Vicar's in Trouble. This is my third Derby. This is better weather than last year. She won the Oaks this year so that was a good start. You don't make much money on those favorites you know. I just came here to watch my kid ride.

Vicar's in Trouble

Carol Kennelly Ireland

This my first Derby and there are so many parts I like. The scale, the fashion, the friendliness of the people. Definitely the friendliness. Everyone is so open. They'll come up and talk and want to take photos. They're so warm. The horse that Rosie is riding because I love roses!

Vicar's in Trouble

Ron Martin Tabernacle, NJ

Tabernacle is the home of Smarty Jones, Philadelphia Park. This is my first time at the Derby but I've been to the Preakness twenty-five straight years. I just love all the people here. Everyone's nice, it's just a different atmosphere here. Everyone's real nice and quiet, just very nice people. I'm betting on Tapiture. I've been on him all year. I'm going to go with him today. I know he's long odds but I'm not a California horse person. 43 years no one's won from California yet.


David Bharris & Rob Davenport Washington, DC, Oakland, CA

David: This my second Derby. '07 when Barbaro won was my first time. I love the beauty of the people, the beauty of the horses, the event and the hospitality of Louisville.
Rob: I'm a virgin -- this is my first Derby. But anytime I can come to a lovely place and see wonderful people turned out and make money, it's glorious.

Ride on Curlin

Ben, John & Tommy Chicago, IL

We're best friends and we meet at the Derby every year. This is the fifteenth year. We make our own hats. Here's California Chrome right here. We just glue our hats together and have a good time. Then we come unglued at the Derby. I like Uncle Sigh because he's from the Wounded Warrior stables.

Uncle Sigh

Gary, Todd & Dave Minneapolis, MN

This is our twenty-first Derby. 1988: Winning Colors baby!  Hey, a big thumbs-up for the addition inside Churchill Downs. It's fantastic. Lots more restrooms, lots more cover, easier to bet. The big screen out here is amazing. We're having a great time. It's been one of the best in years.

California Chrome, Samraat & Wicked Strong

Rev. Ted Chicago, IL

This is my first Derby. All these knuckleheads invited me. I'm having a blast.

I'm not betting anything on the Derby. It would violate my vows of celibacy. 

Ryan, Adam & Kaylin Southern Indiana

First Derby, second Derby, it's a mix. We're enjoying the southern hospitality, the great drinks, impeccable atmosphere and the opportunity to become a great winner.

Uncle Sigh

Veyda Williams Chicago, IL

This is my first Derby but it will not be my last. I am having a ball! Betting and choosing the horses is my favorite part.

Harry's Holiday

Peggy Miller Louisville, KY

I made this myself out of a lampshade. I come to the Derby every year. This is the best ever, I love the Derby, everybody's here to have fun. It's a good time.

I don't even know who's running. I don't care. I'm here and I'm having fun.

Spencer & Lyndsy Marietta, GA

We're visiting family and enjoying the Derby. It's my fourth Derby and her first. The weather is awesome this year,. We're just watching the horses go. They're beautiful animals.

Haven't decided yet.

Tom, Michelle, Brian New York, NY

Tom: My good friend Brian got us tickets and we decided on the last minute to come down to Kentucky. This is our first Derby. The people, the show, everybody's dressed up, everybody's been great and we're pretty excited about it.

Wicked Strong

Elizabeth, Kimberly, Shawn, Lauren, Dorian, Nicolle, Maureen Jacksonville, FL

We're all colleagues in the hospitality business. This is our first Derby. We love the good time, the whole environment, it's a beautiful day.



I'm here with my wife for our ten-year anniversary. We like watching the horses run. It's great to have some nice weather for a change. We were hoping for Hopportunity for a win in the Derby but our horse was scratched so we have to pick a new horse. 

We'll have to figure that out.

Joey White & Friends Notre Dame, IN

We are enjoying this fantastic day on manicured grass right in front of Churchill Downs. We really just stumbled upon it. We were dropped off by our bus and are just people-watching just before we go in. We all are seniors at the University of Notre Dame. Most of us are pre-med so most are headed to medical school next year. It's kind of a tradition for us to come down to the Kentucky Derby because our finals start next week so it's the Saturday before finals and we thought it would be a great way to celebrate our culmination of four awesome years at the most awesome university in the United States. 

Art Sherman

The key in a race like this with 20 horses in the field is the first 70 yards. You want to get out and get yourself some position. You don't want to get bumped or knocked off stride. You don't want to get the wind knocked out of them. If that happens, then they can't get into that rhythm; they can't get rolling properly.

Art Sherman, trainer for 2014 Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome. If victorious, the 77-year-old Art would become the oldest trainer to ever win the Derby.

California Chrome

Dr. & Mrs. Stephen Penkhus Mankato, MN

We're in the paddock for the first time and it's absolutely amazing to see these amazing horses up so close. Seeing how they're tacked up, how their saddles are sitting, seeing what condition they are in . . . just to experience the animals this close is amazing.

Not California Chrome, I'm sorry I don't remember the name. It's a long shot. 

Rosie Napravnik Mendham, NJ


"She was standing perfect in the gate, she broke sharp, we got the perfect position. She gets into a great stride and she relaxed so nicely, better than you can ask any horse to do, and just showed exactly who she is down the lane."

 Jockey Rosie Napravnik describing her winning race on Untapable in the 2014 Longines Kentucky Oaks. Now a two-time Oaks winner, Rosie will be riding Vicar’s In Trouble in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.

Vicar’s In Trouble

Oscar Mexico

The goat's name is Hunter. is a friend of the horse Bull Dozer who is running in the 12th race today. They've known each other about four years and the goat calms Bull Dozer down.

I would prefer not to say.

Skip & Mary Koepnick Wyoming, MI

I have a battery pack inside my jacket that powers my hat  with a power cable up the back and a motor on top that spins the horses. I've gotta do my neck exercises so I can wear it all Derby day. I got the three and the eight on the horses' saddlecloth because this is my 38th consecutive Derby.

California Chrome

James Cowherd & Dino Desimone Boston, MA & Las Vegas NV

The fun, excitement and the interaction with people, taking some pictures, all of that brings us back to the Derby. This is our third Derby together.

Wicked Strong & Ride on Culin

Kristie & Friends Saginaw, MI

We got up at 6am, a little late. This is my 16th Derby or something like that. The parties keep bring me back.

Wicked Strong

Laura & Emily Chicago IL / Louisville, KY

Laura: I drove down from Chicago to be here. We just watched the Longines fashion show and we definitely want to participate next year. We've been walking around kind of people watching, taking in some of the Lilly drinks and watching some horse racing. 

We haven't decided yet.

Christian Hellmers & John Hurd San Diego, CA

Christian: I'm on the Esquire Network reality show, Horseplayers and we're here representing California Chrome with our chromed outfits. We feel that horse has some energy. I won't be betting much on that race but this horse is a Jedi.

California Chrome

Sacorra, Tara & Jennifer Louisville, KY

Tara: This is my fourth Oaks. We like the Pink Lilys, the food, the hats of course. I don't come to the Derby, never been. We've heard that the Oaks is more fun.

Anything Calvin Borel is riding I'll bet on.

Dan Neely Bonita Springs, FL

We come here every year, Judy was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky but we live in Bonita Springs now and we come back here every year for the Derby. We like walking around and having fun with people.

Don't know yet.

Tee Willis Louisville, KY

Today is my birthday, May the second, 1978! I am thirty-six and this is my very first Kentucky Oaks, yes it is. I love the hats, the crowd, the food, the drinks, seeing my family, just everything and being with my husband James.

Who we betting on baby? Nobody knows.

Lindsay & Els Chicago, IL

We are from Chicago, we went to Madison and we're here with our six other sorority sisters. First time at the Oaks so that's why we have these crazy hats on, shaped like cheese hats and painted pink in honor of Bright Pink, which is a great charity.

California Chrome

James, Jake & Cameron Asheville, NC

James: This is my second time at Oaks and I guess the first sunny Oaks. Well, kinda sunny. So far my favorite part about it is the alcohol.
Jake: This is my first time here at the Oaks and I lost my first bet which is frustrating so I'm going to drink a little bit. I'm enjoying the atmosphere. Could be sunnier, but what can you do?
Cameron: First time at the Oaks. I've been to Derby five times in a row, looking forward to coming back tomorrow. California Chrome is looking good. I don't know too much about the others horses so I'm investigating. I'm happy to be here with my fraternity brothers.

California Chrome

Matt Des Moines, IA

This my fifth time to the Oaks and Derby. We actually enjoy the Oaks just as much as the Derby. I'm dressed in pink because we support Bright Pink. I had the most fun winning the fourth race. For the Derby, we do gates actually, we come here every year and bet the gate all day long. So today we've got the sixth gate. 

Tomorrow we'll have a little business meeting in the hotel room and talk about it and then we'll bet a gate. Because with twenty horses, well now nineteen with the scratch, you don't know who's going to win. So we just bet gates because we're bad at it anyway.

Heather Taylorsville, KY

We're in the infield in a hunting blind and we came here to watch the races and bet on some horses. We're staying warm. We had to get here fairly early to get this spot. My favorite thing so far has been the beer.

Don't know who I'm betting for the Derby yet.

Morgan & Sunshine Atlanta, GA

This is our fourth visit to the Kentucky Derby and we're looking to have a good time and place some bets.

We don't know who we're betting on the Derby. Not yet.

Tom Louisville, KY

I've been coming to the Derby every year for twenty years. The betting is the fun part. I try to put a lot of study into it.


Becky Fistchman New York, NY

I grew up going to horse races in Hollywood, Florida and I've been dying to go to the Kentucky Derby my whole life and I'm finally here for my first time. I love the Turf Club it seems great and has great cocktails. And I love Bourbon!

California Chrome


I haven't been here since I was a little girl. The last time I was at the Oaks and the Derby that was with my grandma and she passed away '97. But I've always lived in the area. I actually have an uncle who was the first junior trainer. Sigrave was his name. His wife Essie lived around the corner and she died just about a year or so ago. This is my first Oaks and Derby inside Churchill Downs since I was a little girl.

Michelle Paris Portland, OR

This is my very first Taste of Derby. I've been part of Taste the NFL for sixteen years and have worked with the people behind the scenes in the kitchens. My job at the Superbowl which is what I was doing here: Running everything in the kitchens over at Sullivan University making sure all of our chefs had all of their food, farming out the students, working with the chefs, making sure everything got prepared and ready to get over here so the event runs smoothly.

I have no idea.

Bill Haass San Antonio, TX

This is our first Derby. We've been telling ourselves for ten years we're gonna come and we finally made it. We actually drove here. We absolutely love Taste of Derby. The food is fantastic and the people who are in there are the friendliest people in the world. And being from Texas, we like friendly people.

You would be foolish not to bet on California Chrome, but at the same time I always bet on the long shot. Just because you're not going to make anything if California Chrome wins -- on a two dollar ticket you'll make sixty cents. Gary Stevens said it best: there are twenty horses so every horse is twenty-to-one.

Dave Patterson

Beautiful evening. We've been to Derby a lot of times but this is our first Taste of Derby. I like the Bite Delight, it's a lamb chop with cilantro and I don't know what the sauce is but it's wonderful. Awesome. 

We're betting her numbers. We never bet on who's riding the horse we always bet on the numbers. And those numbers are 8, 5 and 1. Bet to win: box.

Scott Goodman Louisville, KY

We come every year we enjoy the event so much. We try to bring new people to it and we make sure that the nucleus is always intact.


Lenada Merrick Sandra Springs, GA

We're here at this wonderful event, Taste of Derby to raise money for Dare to Care. This year 37% of the people who went through a food bank it was the first time they had ever been to one. So all of these community events are so important. It's nice to see all these corporations lend their time and money to this event.

I'm going to donate my money to a food bank rather than betting on the Derby

Debbie Fontaine Louisville, KY

This is my first Taste of Derby and I'm having a blast. I love the food, the wine and the people. And my beautiful daughter in-law won the cooking competition!

Wicked Strong

Jennifer Culotta

We've been friends since college. We come here every Thursday before Derby. Thurby! We've been doing this forever.

Betting on Uncle Sigh

Dennis & Meghan Ross


Dawn at the Downs was wonderful. We watched the sun rise over Churchill Downs and had a big ol' buffet breakfast that was delicious. It's our first Derby and we came with friends though that have come numerous times so it was nice to have the low-down on where to go and where not to go.

California Chrome

Dave Spencer Louisville, KY

I actually played hooky from work to be here today. I've already hit about six exactas. I'm here with my oldest child and she's learning how to bet. I used to sneak into the Derby when I was a kid, back when they used to park the mobile homes in the back parking lot off of Longfield. We used to come back there and we'd just ask the people if was okay if we climbed over the mobile home and jump the fence. They didn't care. So we'd climb over and jump the fence then we'd spend the whole day in there. I was there when Secretariat won. I was here when the guy streaked up the flagpole naked and they arrested him. I know the guy. His name was Ben. They yanked him off of there and they took him down naked all the way out. He had his clothes, but they never let him get dressed they took him straight through the tunnel from the infield without no clothes on and locked him up. I'm 55 and I've been through quit a few Derbys.
Dave likes a few Derby horses
"I got three choices. I like #4 #5 #12 and #20.

Matt Martinez Miami, FL

We were up here for the festivities and we needed something to do on this Thursday so we thought that Thurby was a good idea and here we are, and we're actually having fun.
Matt's picking Danza

Sam Turner Louisville, KY

I've been to about four or five Derbys but I've been around I guess about 25 or 30 Derbys, being here in Louisville 'n' all.
Sam's picking Tapiture

ShariLakewood, CO

My husband's out there building stores and he said, "Want to do to the Derby?" and I said, "SURE!"
Shari's picking Samraat

Departing Denver International Airport, Shari was traveling with a few wagering orders from friends.

"I don't know which horse I'm going to bet on yet but my friend told me to bet for her on box number six and number eight for twenty dollars and number three to show."

Michael Day Fullerton, CA

I think we've got a good shot at all of 'em
Michael's picking Danza

We ran into Michael at the Denver International Airport, on his way to his first Kentucky Derby.

"My father has a couple horses running and has Crafstman in the $250,000 American Turf and Stonehenge in the $400,000 Churchill Downs. And he's not an owner, but he has his group which has Danza, who is running in the Kentucky Derby.

"So those are the horses I'll be betting on. But I think we've got a good shot at all of 'em."

Jeff & Paula ScottSacramento, CA

We're all getting together and we're going to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby for the first time!
Jeff & Paula Scott are picking "We have no idea."

"Me and my wife just flew in and we're about to meet my parents John Scott and Debra Scott. We rented a house and we're going to be going to the Kentucky Derby for the first time. My brother Lucky Scott and my sister Courtney Scott are coming in later. Then we're also going to be meeting Vana Scott and Charlie and we're all getting together and we're going to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby for the first time."