Horse StoriesMay 5th, Jeff and I joined my good friend, Julie, her husband and our other horsey friend, Tommy at the Lone Star Park, a horse racing track in Grand Prairie, Texas. It was the day of the Kentucky Derby race and Julie and I, huge derby fans, couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate and watch the race, than at Lone Star.
We weren’t disappointed! Despite an enormous turnout, we found the park surprisingly manageable. Upon entering the park, we were greeted by a stand selling derby hats.
Regretfully, I didn’t wear mine, not being sure what to expect. Thankfully, I love to wear sun hats. But I’ll never make that mistake again! Not only will I wear my hat, but my derby dress too.
It seems there are fewer opportunities for adults to don a costume and embrace pure fun. Derby day at Lone Star provides such an opportunity. All around us women wore beautiful dresses, topped with elaborate hats. Many men wore suits, with ties and pocket handkerchiefs matching the color of the woman’s dress.
There were families and friends with plenty of little ones running around. Girls in matching sun dresses and hats. Some of the little boys dressed to. We saw everything from t-shirts and shorts, to attire suitable for a wedding. And the creativity! Some folk’s put a great deal of thought and planning into their attire, like a Halloween costume.
Immediately, after Jeff and I arrived at the park we found Tommy, then I headed straight for the rail along the front of the track. It was such a surprise when I found the rail almost empty. If you are a horse person, it is an absolute thrill to stand at the rail, feel the thunder of hooves, smell the horses, dirt and hear their snorts as they bolt by.
It is also a thrill to watch the horses cross the finish line. They’re, soaked in sweat and high-strung from anaerobic exertion. Nostrils flared, eyes wild, veins protruding, like roadways on their lean forms. Jockey’s riding in the back are covered in mud. Their horses too, from the front runners hooves flicking the mud their way.
I took this video of the first race I watched.
While I ran to the rail, Jeff stood in line and bought our drinks. He usually looks at the program and places a few bets (I’m talking a dollar or two). He’s good at this. On an average, he usually wins back just a little over the amount of money, we put into our visit. Meaning the entry fee, drinks and food. However, the lines on derby day were long, so we decided to wait. Good choice! Amazingly, a hour or two later the lines were shorter and Jeff was able to place his bets.
About 45 minutes before the Kentucky Derby Race took place, we sought out the paddock area, where they saddle and show the race horses before the jockeys ride them to the track. Amazingly, the area was almost clear. We were able to set up chairs in the shade with a clear view of the large outdoor screen that would show the race.
For horse people, the excitement preluding this race is equivalent to the excitement one feels just before a concert, when your favorite performer is about to walk on stage. I couldn’t help myself… Bounding from my chair I quickly went to the front of the rail, where I could see and hear the screen better. Several other people were doing the same. We grinned at each other with a knowing understanding… the short moments of this race are one of a horse lovers favorites. For me, it’s not just about winning, although that is the icing on the cake, it’s about the majesty of the horse. It’s power and grace in full motion. Filling me with continues wonder, over how a small girl can harness that power and ride such a beast. Moment’s later Julie was by my side and the race was on…
The icing on the cake was ours… JUSTIFY won! As is often the case, Jeff won the exact amount of money, we had put into our visit.
After the race, we collectively left Lone Star and headed back to Fort Worth for dinner. Next year, I’ll proudly wear my derby dress and hat. Allow myself some of that fun we adults don’t get very often; at least not in public. On the other hand, on the top of Julie’s and my bucket lists, is actually going to the Kentucky Derby… Humm….. I already have my hat and dress!
If you enjoyed this post, check out my post on the Kentucky Derby party I hosted.
Lone Star Park is a great place to bring the entire family! If you’re visiting Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington or an adjoining city, consider going to the park. Wear plenty of sunscreen and sun hats. Come hungry, because there’s hotdogs, pizza, nachos and other such finger foods. If you prefer air conditioning and a little more upscale menu, make a reservation for a table upstairs, where you can watch the track.
For more information: (972-237-1197) www.LoneStarPark.com