Taking the train used to be the coolest way to get to the Kentucky Derby — and for some fortunate folks, it still is.
Two special trains bound for the Derby were in Lexington earlier this week, getting a final sprucing-up for the big event at the RJ Corman Railroad Group's yards at the foot of Buchanan Street.
One was the 17-car Governor's Derby Train, run by CSX, which will carry Gov. Steve Beshear, his family, state officials, friends and guests to Louisville for the Run For The Roses. In addition, there was a four-car Corman train that the railroad group will run to the Derby to carry company officials, their families and guests.
Both trains took on supplies Wednesday and got buffed, polished and prepared to welcome Derby guests.
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The Governor's Train traveled to Frankfort on Thursday and will depart from there Saturday morning with the governor's entourage. The Corman train will depart from Lexington on Saturday morning, bound for the Derby.
It calls to mind earlier times, when air travel was in its infancy and interstate highways didn't yet exist. Back then, railroads ran special trains to the Kentucky Derby from as far away as New York and Chicago, offering high rollers fine dining and luxury accommodations as they leisurely traveled toward Louisville in high style.
State officials said the Governor's Derby Train helps promote Kentucky to potential businesses and investors, and it offers a "chance to showcase our state and our hospitality in a way no one else can replicate."
A Lear Jet might be quicker and a stretch limo might be quieter, but there's something special about dressing up and taking the train to the Kentucky Derby.
"It's pretty cool," said Noel Rush, vice president for strategic planning and development at the Corman Railroad Group.