Keeneland

Thousands enjoy Derby Day at Keeneland

Jay Willis of Harrodsburg stood in line to bet. Willis said he has come to Keeneland on Derby Day for 13 years.
Jay Willis of Harrodsburg stood in line to bet. Willis said he has come to Keeneland on Derby Day for 13 years. Herald-Leader

Derby fans who flocked to Keeneland on Saturday said they were able to enjoy the atmosphere of the big race without having to fight the masses in Louisville.

Maureen Bermudez described the difference between the crowds at Churchill Downs and Keeneland this way: "More sober, less hats."

Bermudez, of central Michigan, said she and her four sisters have spent Derby Day at Keeneland for six years now. She started the tradition by choosing the trip to celebrate her 50th birthday.

"I love the country," said Bermudez, who wore a hat adorned with a stuffed horse. "Despite the crowds, it's still very relaxing here."

Lexington transplants Tyler and Lori Barton, who were celebrating their first Derby at Keeneland, planned to let 8-month-old daughter Hannah take her first pony ride.

"We had to (come). There was so much excitement and fun going on, this was the place to be," Lori Barton said. "We're embracing this horse country wholeheartedly."

Official attendance at Keeneland was 18,466, up from 16,328 last year, Keeneland spokeswoman Julie Balog said.

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