Our friend Tim grew up 20 miles from Churchill Downs and has been a certified Kentucky Colonel since he was 16-years old.
As you might imagine, the man pours a mean mint julep and knows his way around a race card.
For the past 22 years, he and his wife Janice have hosted the greatest Derby Party north of the Mason Dixon line and, for well over a decade, we have been lucky enough to attend.
Some years we research the horses thoroughly and arrive with a well-planned betting strategy. Other years we sip juleps, enjoy the sunshine and wing it. Always, we include a bet on the No. 8 horse, in honor of the Outlaw Mary Jane, who had nine children but always said that 8 was her lucky number.
Fortunately, due to our checkered betting strategy, we celebrate far more than Derby winners on those sweet Saturday afternoons in May. We toast to friendship and all of the milestones we share over the years — graduations, retirements, new jobs, weddings and grandchildren.
This year, the place was crawling with adorable babies and toddlers as the annual party grew to include a third generation of tiny racing fans.
We all enjoyed one of the most beautiful afternoons Appleton had seen in a long while and then headed inside for the most exciting two minutes in sports.
For about 20 minutes, our random decision to include Maximum Security in our game day strategy looked like it would pay off big. Then, the racing stewards made their historic announcement that Maximum Security had interfered with two other horses, leaving Country Horse the named winner and sending bettors scrambling for crumpled race cards in garbage cans all over America.
Ah, well. Somewhere in in this favored land the sun is shining bright; the band is playing somewhere and somewhere hearts are light; and somewhere men are laughing and somewhere children shout…
(all of that still happened at our Kentucky Party) because there was still joy in Mudville, though the winner was ruled out.
Many thanks to Colonel Tim and Janice for another excellent Kentucky Derby party that showed us. once again, how much fun big hats and big hearts can be.