LOUISVILLE — The University of Kentucky Wildcats spotted one of their Big Blue brethren on the red carpet and tried to wave him into the picture with them.
But the ol' pro waved them on.
Patrick Patterson, who now plays for the Houston Rockets, said he wanted to "make them have their moment. People say, 'Yo, go on down there with them.' I said, no, that's the championship team. Let them have their moment. ... Let them enjoy this as a team, because they've been together."
Patterson is a Derby veteran, and he said he told the team, "Be ready to take thousands of pictures — sign autographs, kiss babies, mingle with the fans. Hopefully you're wise, you make some good bets, and you're going to have a lot of fun. You'll see a lot of interesting people, a lot of celebrities. Pretty much just soak it all in, because this only happens a few times in your life."
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She makes the hats
Elizabeth Cruse and Christine A. Moore looked like a typical pair of Derby-goers, snapping photos in front of the paddock.
But Moore comes to the Derby each year with her professional eye peeled for the Derby's signature hats.
"I've been designing Derby hats for eight years," the New York-based milliner says.
Derby obviously is prime time for Moore, who designed several prominent hats for this year's Derby. You probably saw them, particularly if you were watching at home. Her clients this year included the anchors for WLEX's Derby Day coverage — Cruse is LEX personality Lee Cruse's wife — and Mary J. Blige, who sang the national anthem.
"My publicist told me where to go to get a hat," Blige said on the red carpet. "There are so many big hats out here, and I just couldn't do the big one, because my head is so small."
The Triple Crown is good for Moore's business, although in some unsuspected ways. The Preakness, she says, has generated a lot of business for her because Pimlico Race Course has tried to pump up the social/fashion aspect of its race. And she gets better Belmont business when there is not a Triple Crown candidate.
"If there's a Triple Crown horse, people have been planning as they go, but if not, they're just having fun and are more willing to try something different," says Moore, who also sells her hats at Keeneland.
Early to drink?
When asked what events are a good excuse to drink before noon, a number of folks have a one-word answer: Derby.
Nursing Bloody Marys, a fairly traditional a.m. drink, Jared Studley of Nashua, N.H., and Jeff Smith of New York said getting a cocktail to start the day seemed to be the thing to do at their first Derby. Having been here for the Oaks on Friday, they even had the drink services at the Derby figured out.
Avoid the barkers carrying the juleps around, "because they're kind of watered down after being in the sun a while," Studley said.
They also aren't fans of the general bars. They favor the tents set up by spirit makers such as Grey Goose vodka.
"Go with the professionals," Smith said. "It's all the same price."