The stadium itself was like a giant labyrinth, requiring a different shade of access bracelet at every turn. With each ascending floor of the giant many-leveled track came brighter wrist bands, a better view and a more dapper crowd.
Security had reportedly been heightened to accommodate the attendance of Queen Elizabeth II.
By hook and crook, the Observer managed to get up to the famed Millionaire’s Row. The Queen was nowhere in sight, but O.J. Simpson was there in full force. The horses were running; the Juice was on his feet.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” he screamed. “Hey, Chris! Chris!” he called out to a friend in a neighboring box. “I’m hot today, boy.”
The next race would be the Derby. Mr. Simpson said he was betting on Dominican. He signed an autograph.
“Peace to you,” he wrote below that notorious signature.
A tunnel running underneath the track opens up onto what is known as the infield, a muddy arena packed with revelers more concerned with partying—keg beer, wacky hats, bare feet!—than old-fashioned Derby proprieties. From here, with a good pair of binoculars, the box seats and Millionaire’s Row can be spied directly. No one appeared remotely concerned about who might be enjoying air conditioning and champagne or which blue hat belonged to the Queen.
At roughly 6:15, the horses break out of their gates and for those two exciting minutes—it’s a Louisvillian crowd wearing the same color access bracelet.
There ensues the horrendous struggle to get the hell out there.
And indeed, that mood prevails over the city thereafter.
The turnout to the Grand Gala at the Galt House hotel was significantly more B-list than that which attended the parties the night before.
At the “chocolate waterfall” table in the desert room, Kevin Sorbo— otherwise known as “Hercules”—had just speared a wedge of pineapple and was getting ready to dip.
“Excuse me, what show are you on?” asked a fellow partygoer.
Standing nearby was New York Giant Michael Strahan.
“Up in the box—I was in there with a lot of millionaires—and a few billionaires a well, which was interesting,” he said. “We had a good time and I’ll definitely be back.”
His mind was already elsewhere. “I can’t wait to watch the fight,” he said referring to the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight airing an hour from now.
Mr. Strahan had not done well that day at the track. Like many, he had his money on Scat Daddy, who placed 18th.
Kid didn’t like the slop.