As I told y'all last week, I've been to Churchill Downs once. I think it was the 2005 Kentucky Derby. I spent the day in the Infield and I'll be honest... I don't think I saw a horse once, the day is a little hazy, ha! So, I was pretty excited when a college roommate of mine from Western invited me up to Louisville to go to Downs After Dark for her birthday.

I got a few dresses together, made a quick last-minute stop to Blossoms Friday afternoon for some appropriate head-wear and hit I-64 early Saturday morning. After a day filled with shopping, food and catching up on some much needed Court/Jac time, we got ready to head to the track!

First of all, I didn't remember how beautiful Churchill Downs is. (But, once we got there I did remember that the last time I was there, I fell crossing the street and scraped my knee leaving a scar that lasted all of summer '05.) Ok, back to the beauty of it all. While we were walking thru the permit and $40 parking lot with vehicles that I'm pretty sure cost more than my house, I couldn't get over the grander of it. (PS. We parked at some lady's house across the street for $10. I'm pretty sure she is the real-life Grandma from Neapolitan Dynamite, but she was really nice. Eat your dinner, Tina!) So, the building itself is massive. All of the workers were beyond friendly and they had a cool photo op set-up inside so you could walk the red carpet with a pic to prove it.

Jaclyn Graves

I did make one bet, and I felt so fancy making it, ha! My horse didn't win, in fact, every horse we bet on came in last or just about last place. But, we didn't care at all, the night was so much fun! It didn't hurt that we were enjoying the races in a box on the finish line. (Which I quickly learned is like being on the 50 yard-line, 20 rows up at a Titans game.)

After a quick trip to the Paddock, which was so cool to see the horses so close, we hit the town for more of Courtney's Birthday Celebration.

It really is a beautiful place and as Kentuckians, we should be proud to have such a historic racing venue in our Commonwealth. The 140th Run for the Roses is just a few days away. Thousands of racing fans will pour into Churchill in their fancy outfits and ridiculously expensive hats, sipping on mint juleps and betting $2.00, across the board on whichever horse has the cutest name. (Oh, nevermind, that's just how I bet, ha! We'll get 'em next time, Billy Two Hats!)

I can't wait to go back to Churchill Downs again. Maybe by then I'll brush up on horse racing and have a clue what I'm betting on. On second thought, it's waaay more fun betting on whichever horse's jockey has the cutest outfit, too. Yep, we tried that betting method, as well! If anyone needs a Derby date, just let me know, ha! I'm ready to head back to the track! Wearing a hat thingy was just too much fun to only do once!

Jaclyn Graves (with the birthday girl!)