We arrived outside the gates a little after 7am. By then, the line stretching along the wall outside the track was only a few dozen paces long. We had nearly an hour to wait. I watched as an endless parade of people carrying blankets, lawn chairs, and bags of food trickled past us and toward the end of the line. Everyone chatted, smiled and laughed. The sun was rising in a clear sky, and it was becoming warm. It was going to be a good day.
Abruptly, the line moved forward and after a brief security check, we
were moving through the gates. We walked a ways before descending into a
large tunnel. The clammy tunnel air and realization that I was walking
beneath the final turn of Churchill Downs–the final turn of the Kentucky
Derby!–caused goosebumps to spread over my arms.
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