As Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games winners come to the media center for news conferences, they might wonder about the life-size blue horse in the corner.
It's Big Lex, the city's official icon of the famous stallion Lexington, painted Wildcat blue.
All the medal winners are being asked to sign Big Lex. Then the horse will be clear-coated and donated to the Kentucky Horse Park as a commemoration of the Games.
The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau brought Big Lex out to the Horse Park with the help of Chris Benezet of Precision Painting, said David Lord, the bureau's director.
Big Lex was a late addition to Horse Mania because of a supplier problem, said Lord, and sat out in front of the visitors' bureau on Vine Street for a few days last week before moving to the Horse Park.
"It's worked out at the last minute," Lord said.
Big Lex got another signature Monday from someone who hasn't won a medal, just a bunch of Grammys: singer and songwriter Lyle Lovett.
Queen in attendance
The queen of Denmark attended the Games on Monday. Queen Margrethe II was seen in the Alltech corner of the Maker's Mark Bourbon Village. Games officials confirmed her presence and have requested a media availability session with her on Tuesday. The queen's niece, Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 35, is competing in the team dressage event Tuesday, riding her horse Digby.
Aussies in Lexington
Emily Mackintosh and Cate Walker traveled from Australia to be at the Games for all 16 days. Aside from a few problems with Ticketmaster, they're having a great time.
"The hospitality is sensational," Mackintosh said. "Everyone at our hotel knows exactly what's going on; the bus (LexTran shuttle) has been great; and the people have been so friendly, helpful and well-meaning."
The women — both three-day eventing fans — say they've returned the favor with two Australian riders, Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton, who now ride for the U.S. eventing team.
"We knew you needed some help," Mackintosh joked.
When told of his countrywoman's little pleasantry, Dutton just laughed.
But he did think the U.S. team has a good chance against its Australian and European counterparts.
"Our horses are used to the park, and the competitive conditions are going to be ideal with rain today," Dutton said.
Eventing, which includes the equestrian disciplines of dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping, starts on Thursday with dressage.
Dutton knows the Horse Park well, having won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2008 and placed second in 2007. He said it looked "incredible."
"It's a bit of a shock to see these facilities on the world stage," he said.
Games officials said the total attendance Monday was 12,115. Saturday's reining and opening ceremonies brought in 23,081, while Sunday's attendance was 12,259. Those numbers include ticketed visitors, members of the media, volunteers and students.
The medal ceremonies for endurance racing were held Monday in the Main Stadium. Lexingtonian P.G. Peeples, a member of the Games Foundation Board, got to accompany CEO Jamie Link and Princess Haya bint al-Hussein to the dais.
In team awards, the United Arab Emirates won gold, France won silver and Germany won bronze.
In individual medals, Maria Alvarez Ponton won the gold aboard her horse Nobby only seven weeks after having a baby girl. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, who is married to Princess Haya, secured the silver medal while his son Sheikh Hamdan bin al-Maktoum took the bronze.
Sheikh Mohammed did not attend the medals ceremony. Games officials said he had to attend to state business.
UAE team members attended the medals ceremony but did not attend the news conference afterward. Saeed al-Tayer, the UAE's chef de mission, apologized, saying the team was "thrilled" to win the gold medal, but, "unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, the team members did not attend the post-medal press conference and for that we apologize. We would have been honored to speak to the media, but we were genuinely unaware that this was standard protocol.
"We have a special love for the state of Kentucky and think of it as a home away from home."
Evidently, the invitation to the ceremony was literally lost in translation.
Jean-Phillippe Frances won the award for best-conditioned horse with Hanaba du Bois. The day after the endurance race, judges examine the top horses to see which one weathered the grueling 100-mile race the best.
Rider still critical
Eitan Beth-Halachmy, the performer who fell ill at the opening ceremony Saturday night, was still listed in critical condition at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital on Monday night.
Page views up
The Games' official Web site, Alltechfeigames.com, has had a surge in page views since the Games started, said Terry Johnson, vice president of marketing. Before the Games, page views averaged 40,000 to 50,000 a day. On Saturday, there were 280,000 page views and on Sunday, 382,000.
Johnson attributed the increase to the statewide telecast of the opening ceremony and NBC's first live telecast.
"People are still calling to buy tickets and hospitality," he said.
Dressage in the rain
So Monday's dressage riders got rained on periodically. Why not just move them to the indoor arena, which was empty Monday? A slew of reasons:
■ Dressage continues Tuesday, when the indoor arena hosts reining again.
■ There were more than 7,000 dressage spectators, which is the number of seats in the indoor arena.
■ Reworking logistics for scoring and announcing would require extensive planning.
Not to worry, anyway. Horses don't really mind the rain, especially not the fairly gentle downpours that occurred Monday.
Special guests at the Horse Park on Monday included 4,000 schoolchildren from Central Kentucky who arrived on 69 school buses. They were part of Alltech's Give Kids a Chance program, which gives kids free admission to the Games.