Yes, while race itself remains one of the great spectacles in American sport, the attendant festivities are a pretty great show in their own right: Where else can you see ridiculous hats and Rob Gronkowski downing watery, bourbon-based cocktails while wearing a goofy outfit (aside from the parking lot of a Kansas State spring football game)?
The Run for the Roses is equal parts pageant and party, and though the celebrities get most of media attention, the brave men and women throwing ’em back in the parking lot deserve equal praise. They showed up hours before the first race even began – there were 13 in total, the last of which was (fittingly) won by a horse named Bent on Bourbon – dressed in their Derby Day finest and raring to let loose. Raging is as much a race-day tradition as the Mint Julep, and as such, you could argue they represent the real racing fan…the kind unafraid to wear a Bud Light box as a hat, adhere to the time-honored tradition of “Sun’s out, Guns out” or just shout “Wooooooo!” whenever there’s a camera present.
How do we know? Because we spent Saturday out among the masses, and boy, are our ears ringing. Here’s our Derby Day Diary, complete with fashion tips, last-minute picks and a rather stirring rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home.” Turns out, you don’t need a garland of roses when you’ve got a full cooler and plenty of thirsty friends.