SMITH COLUMN: What a great weekend it was

Published 8:30 am Thursday, May 6, 2021

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Last weekend was much ado about plenty. High marks were in order for everything from the weather to sports competitions, reverberating scenes from here to there, bringing about an enduring appreciation for the good things in life.

After a good night’s sleep, it was business as usual with the Athens Banner Herald, coffee on the patio as daybreak emerged in the company of crepe myrtles with a Jack-in-the-beanstalk reach, gleaming ivy smothering a wooden fence and birds singing acapella. I love daybreak. I love those creatures that know nothing about social media, Biden and Trump, COVID 19 or the national debt. 

In the distance, a dog barked with abandon. Suddenly the reason for the yelping appeared in living color —f our does walked through the yard. Many deer encroach on our property, same as with the neighbors, but nobody raises a fuss except the aforementioned barking dogs.

A walk through the neighborhood comes next.  My cushioned Nike’s allow for Godspeed as all the neighbors — some I know, some I don’t — are shut-in for the moment, a lovely prelude to a forthcoming day of generous serendipity.

Feeling refreshed with anticipatory emotions, there was that all important staple of laid back Saturday mornings — a sustaining and fulfilling breakfast: Chobani Greek Yogurt, blueberries and roasted almonds, eggs, bacon, toast and decaffeinated coffee with local honey. I bet Nebuchadnezzar never dined better.

A new book got ample time and was followed by a day with the sporting scene, principally a UGA hosted track meet at the Spec Towns Track, a few innings of the Bulldog baseball game at Foley Field and a late afternoon armchair absorption of the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby!

Such a spectacle, even on television. The Derby reeks of class. The three classiest sporting events in that great pantheon of competition are the Masters, Wimbledon and the Derby. The Henley Regatta would get votes from many but that regal social by Henley-on-Thames does not have the magnitude of the aforementioned.

The Derby does have a boisterous infield, but for the most part, fashion and style hold sway. Women in fine frocks with the most spectacular headdresses since Sitting Bull was in the news.

The Churchill Downs hierarchy bills this sports colossus as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.” That allows for one of the longest pre-event television presentations this side of the Super Bowl. All in a scene, that incorporates and showcases taste, decorum, propriety and good manners. 

There is nothing quite like the Derby on a sunny spring day in Louisville. Spending the day at Churchill Downs on Derby Day is a memorable and unforgettable experience.

Once you experience the Derby, you can’t wait to return.

The throng of fans is entrenched in the most convivial and celebratory mood, all wanting to cash a winning ticket.

With Woodford Reserve sponsoring the Derby on television, it stimulated memories of touring the distillery in Versailles, Ky. where you learn about the influence the limestone waters have on the making of Kentucky Bourbons, which are popular the world over.

To watch the Derby in style in my own den, I knew what the routine had to be. I got out that square bottle of Woodford Reserve, reached for a glass with an image of Dogwood Stable’s yellow and green silks, poured a drink of the smooth bourbon and raised a toast to the late Cot Campbell of Dogwood. Oh, how Cot loved the Derby.

The first toast of Woodford Reserve was to the Derby and its fabulous traditions. The second toast was to Cot Campbell who took me inside the racing world on many occasions.

When Derby Day falls on your birthday, you can’t help but recall the memories and reflect on the fact that with all the worries in our current world, nothing like a wonderful spring day, garnished by nature, amateur competition and a horseracing spectacle to get your thumbs pointed in the right direction.