The calendar said April but it felt more like March at Keeneland on Saturday, both in temperature and in spirit.
Random "C-A-T-S" chants broke out on shuttle buses bringing race fans from the parking lot to the track. Keeneland billed the day as the "Kentucky Double," with the Bluegrass Stakes, a major Kentucky Derby prep race, coming just hours before the University of Kentucky Wildcats competing in the Final Four in Indianapolis.
The mother of one young fan predicted a run of bets on the number 9 in each race as a nod to the pursuit of the school's ninth championship.
Lucy Coles, 9 herself, of Richmond, wore her blue UK shirt, a big white bow and a stylish curl of blue hair to the track. Later, she would be having a party to watch the game.
Her favorite player? "Booker," she said of Devin Booker. "He's a great player."
"What about Wisconsin?" asked a bystander.
"Don't say that. It's a bad word," Coles said emphatically.
Allison Hines, owner of Butcher Betties Butcher Shop in Florence, pulled out all the stops for the day.
"I'm a big UK fan," Hines said, twirling her blue swing skirt and crinoline.
To complete her outfit, she took an old blue satin and rhinestone corset and Kentucky-ed it up.
"I sewed on different pieces from old T-shirts, from hats. ... This is an old flag," she said, gesturing to the "Wildcats" running down her front. "I made the fascinator at about 3 o'clock in the morning."
She planned to head back to Northern Kentucky to watch the game.
Matthew Bradford with his wife, Amanda, also came out to Keeneland in Kentucky blues so their daughter Layla, clutching a stuffed pony, could see the horses.
"Horses and puppies are her favorite things," Matthew Bradford said.
But they were making their way home well before the races were over because they also like the Cats.
"Is there a game on tonight? Hadn't noticed," Bradford joked.
A lot of racegoers planned to leave the track early.
Chelsea Bolton, Mandy Pearce and Taylor Edds were decked out in their Kentucky colors from head (UK Cat tattoos on faces) to foot (sparkly pompon tucked into cowboy boots) for Keeneland.
But they were planning to leave by 2 p.m. to get over to Tin Roof, the bar and restaurant at the corner of Limestone and Maxwell, a hot spot for game watching.
"We couldn't pass up the Keeneland experience. We're just going to go all day — we were here at 9:30 a.m. We figured there would be a lot of UK fans out here, and we could get cheers going," Bolton said. "Tin Roof wouldn't let us in until noon anyway."
Likewise, Greg Raglin started his day tailgating up on The Hill but planned to finish it on State Street, where he watched the nail-biter of a game against Notre Dame the week before.
Did he have a pick in the Bluegrass Stakes?
"To be honest, I don't know who I like in the race," Raglin said.
What about in the basketball game?
"Is that even a question? Big Blue," he said. "That's not even a question."