Thursday, April 29, 2010

#84: The Kentucky Derby

Annually held in Louisville on the first Saturday of May, The Kentucky Derby is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sport.  Being the first leg of Horse Racing’s Triple Crown, it features the best trainers, owners, jockeys, and horses racing for a chance at glory.

Probably equally as famous as the horse race are the traditions that come with it.  Ladies with big elaborate hats, hordes of people sipping Mint Juleps, roses draped over the winning horse, and My Old Kentucky Home are some of the more famous traditions associated with the derby; less famous, however, is the annual migration of Notre Dame Students (mainly Seniors) to the Churchill Downs infield on the day of the race.

Just as thousands of Kentuckians, and people from the rest of the Midwest, find themselves in the infield during the race; Notre Dame Students go to the event en masse.  Many of these students arrive at the Derby on the morning of the event by chartering buses to take them to and from in one day.  These students are able to make it a full day of drinking (see #11) by starting their debauchery on their early morning bus ride, and continuing it as long as their bodies will allow.

Once arriving at the Derby, Notre Dame Students embrace its traditions.  Stumbling into the infield, they drink Mint Juleps with the rest of the spectators and celebrate with hundreds of their friends.  While some of these students might place wagers on the race, almost none of them will actually see horses run.  These students will be incredibly confused about whether or not they actually won money.

For Notre Dame Seniors, the Kentucky Derby is an important event that marks the beginning of the end of their college careers.  Usually held during study days, attendance at the Derby is typically the most eventful way to procrastinate on the last of their collegiate work (see #18), and the beginning of a multi-week stretch of unparalleled drinking, revelry, and reminiscing that serves as a epic capstone to four years at Notre Dame.

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