One of the topics we discussed and seemed to be somewhat present throughout the spring was the social status of the people and what sports they played, watched, or enjoyed. For example, football and basketball could be associated more with lower class. On the other hand there is sports like baseball and golf that are expensive in certain areas. This is all debatable but the one event and sport I would argue that is solely upper class is horse racing especially every year on the first Saturday of May at the Kentucky Derby. Today the running of the 140th Kentucky Derby took place at the historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky where California Chrome captured the first place finish.
So what makes this sport and particularly the Kentucky Derby more attractive to the upper class? Well first off the horses themselves are extremely expensive. Take today’s winner California Chrome for instance. According to USA Today he cost $10,000 which is cheaper than most of the horses. Since horse racing has so much to do with the genetics of the horse and breeding it is not uncommon to have breeding fees that get into the millions! All of the money is invested in creating a winner and then the owners of the horses have to make sure the horses are pampered until they are able to run and compete on the big stage.
As for the event itself it is a status thing plain and simple. Celebrities and millionaires are always in attendance. I was curious as to what the cost of a ticket was to attend the Derby and it said you can buy a General Admission ticket for only $56 which is not bad, but it does not guarantee you a place to sit. As for the cost of some other sections and amenities of the event I found these numbers: Parking pass $146, Barnstable/Brown Party $1,310, Seat at a table on Millionaire’s Row $3,342 (kind of ironic that it is called Millionaire’s Row, proves my point) with the most expensive ticket being at the Clubhouse Box near the finish line for $11,592. All a little pricey if you ask me especially when you consider the race lasts about a minute, but it is all about the experience and being able to say you went. There is another aspect of the Kentucky Derby that is well known and a little bit of a competition, the hats. Mainly the women but some men do to have the biggest most outrageous hats. The bigger and more flamboyant the better.
Now by no means am I knocking the upper class or belittling the Kentucky Derby. It is actually a fantastic event and I find myself watching it each year. It is one of the great events that takes place in the United States. Maybe I am just a little bit jealous because I will never get to wear a big hat, or watch on Millionaire’s Row. For the people that do get to go enjoy and remember you are amongst the elite.