It was, as they say, an item checked off my bucket list.
I’ve been to the Masters. I’ve been to a major league playoff game. I’ve been to a college football national championship game, way before there was a playoff.
Now, I’ve been to Churchill Downs, albeit not the Kentucky Derby, which is today, but it was close enough for me.
I toured the museum. I had my photo snapped in front of the Barbaro statue. I toured the barn area. I saw Bob Baffert up close and personal.
I even attended Tuesday’s Derby Draw, walking through the paddock area and right past the Turf Club, where major business is always being discussed.
It was all because Michael St. John of Fun Radio 92.7 invited me to go along. He has been attending these kind of events for upward of 50 years, the last 13 (including this one) as part of the AT&T Morning Line Radio Network.
Let me explain. Several years ago, someone or some people realized Louisville was sitting on top of a gold mine. The Kentucky Derby is an international attraction.
So, they wisely set about using the Derby as the centerpiece of a multi-week series of events called the Kentucky Derby Festival. The AT&T Morning Line Radio Network is a setting inside the Kentucky Derby Museum where upward of 20 radio stations set up shop and broadcast live from 6-9 a.m. (our time).
An entire committee of volunteers push through guest after guest on all the stations both mornings, all of them showcasing an event or a place of business or attraction that want to draw in more visitors.
There were lots of distilleries involved, of course. If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times: Did you know 95 percent of the bourbon made in America comes from Kentucky? Also, all bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon.
We had on John Walczak from the Louisville Zoo (with a guest). We had on Jeanie Kahnke with the Muhammed Ali Center. We had on Dale Brown with the Falls of Ohio (Google it). We had on a woman who actually makes hats for the Kentucky Derby.
We had on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, both great guys.
We also had a guest on with a local connection. Hood Harris is the AT&T Kentucky State President and also a native Alabamian who went to Auburn. His wife Heather (Rollings) is from Jasper and went to Alabama, and in high school at what was then called Walker High, she was teammates on the golf team with Arab’s Natalie Burke.
My favorite guest was Gene McLean, publisher of The Press Box and founder of the Louisville Thoroughbred Society. In short, he’s a handicapper and a fun and funny guy. He liked me, St. John and our other crew member, Bobby Knight (not the coach) so much, he came on a second time on Tuesday.
He loved my selection (Ohama Beach) but before Omaha Beach’s scratch was announced on Wednesday, he picked Game Winner, a Baffert horse who is now the favorite.
So, there’s the pick. Sit back this evening at 5:30 and enjoy. I know I will.