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How I got home from the Kentucky Derby: Tales of Louisville's toughest task

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Getting home after the Kentucky Derby is hard. Even if you've managed to keep track of the people you started the day with (a task more difficult than actually making money at Churchill on Derby Day), and even if you have a suitable vehicle within walking distance, there's a good chance that none of you are sober enough to get behind the wheel. Toss in the fact that cabs are few and far between, and that the Tarc will take you to Churchill Downs but it won't take you home, and suddenly you have yourself a massive issue.

The result of all this is that year after year hoards of drunk people are left scrambling to find a way to either get home or get somewhere else to keep their evenings going. This leads to some stellar stories, stories which we asked you to submit earlier this week.

Here are some of the best of those submissions.

The Bad Husband

Last year Derby happened to fall on my birthday, so my in-laws had a nice Derby/birthday party for me. Lots of great drinks, great people, more great drinks. You get the point. We stayed at the track all day and had a great time, but decided to leave shortly before the last race. We had recently, like within the month, moved into a rental house about .2 miles from Churchill downs and thought maybe we could beat the traffic to get home. Little did I know that almost every single road going into my humble abode was blocked off with no entrance in. Here I am, quite tipsy and trying to convince police officers to let me drive down Central Avenue, but since I hadn't gotten a new ID with that address, it was a no go.

My next great idea was to park somewhat near the Kentucky Kingdom theme park and walk down Central with my wife, my 6-month-old baby (weather was nice before I'm judged) a stroller, and me still drunk. No sooner do we make it to top of bridge at Central that I see an absolutely horrible site: Every single person in the state of Kentucky being released from Churchill to walk up the road towards us.

My wife instantly is embarrassed and frustrated at my great idea. I didn't really mind, but once we started walking past people that changed. I have never experienced more odd looks, people trying to give me money, and donations assuming I'm homeless, and telling me that they would pray for my baby. Looking back I guess it wasn't so bad, but just having 50,000 people walking the opposite way of you staring at you puts a weird feeling on you.

We finally get to bottom of Central and are thrilled to finally be close to our street when another officer tells us we can't go through. I quickly tell him the story and he ends up laughing so hard the whole time he moves the blockade to let us through. Got home. Sore feet. Mad wife. But great memories.

The Terrific Wife

I guess my story isn't so much about how I got home from Derby as it is about how I got home after getting home from Derby.

It was 2013 --€ the” Derby was hot that year. The morning started off with a somewhat traditional early Derby morning of slight to moderate hangovers, fast food sausage biscuits and hash browns, B-complex vitamins, and a few Miller Lites. We packed up a small cooler and hoofed it down Grinstead to catch a Tarc to the track.

My cousin, a few of his friends and I got our transfers got out at Eastern and Bardstown, along with everyone else who had the same idea as us. With a cooler and six of us, the prospects of getting on the bus easily seemed grim.

As we weighed our options, a pickup truck with two ... gentlemen ... stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride to Churchill. Hell yes we did. How much? A dollar apiece? Shit yeah. We were obviously this transport's first customers on Derby, and maybe ever. We easily would've paid $5 apiece or more for the pleasure of an open air transport to the track on a gorgeous, if hot, Derby day.

For those who don't know, go to Cheer's, on 4th Street near the track. In that general area, there are Jello shooters, BBQs set up cooking delicious meats, and a convenience store to keep pregaming in hopes of spending slightly less on alcohol than on horses while inside the track. We pregamed, then we pregamed more.

Once we made it into the track --€” and this where we all went so wrong --€” we opened up our cooler and consumed a healthy portion of what I can only describe as "edibles" made from a certain botanical species. We ate way more then we should've, and I will maintain that over any protestations from anyone, any time.

Long story short, I managed to still spend about as much on booze as on horses, despite our extensive and well-planned pregaming plans. Found my future sister in law who gave me a juice box "with bourbon in it" that turned out to be only bourbon ... a fact which was lost on me until I'd taken a giant drink of it.

My 8.5-month pregnant wife picked up most of us --€” the others can share their stories: One walked to near Collegiate from Churchill,€” in front of the law school, and we went, sufficiently hammered and stoned to a Derby party at an apartment near the Backdoor.

This is where I'll note that I do not remember the three rounds I bought at the Backdoor or how I ended up in front of Valu-Market, where I was picked up by my beautiful, though at this point still pregnant soon-to-be wife. In fact, the more I think about it, I only remember that we were going to go to a party near the Backdoor.

This may pale in comparison to walking down the middle of Bardstown Road, vomiting, in the middle of the street, at 6 a.m. after leaving the Hideaway --€” not me, but I was there --€” but, it was fantastic nonetheless. Or so they tell me. Probably won't tell my son about it, though.

Wish We Had More Details

I'm not at liberty to go into any more details than this, but you know the crazy "you're all going to hell because you're evil" protestors that are in front of the track every year? One of them drove me home. Just us two.

The Train Hopper

So our good buddy (Redacted, we can call him "Dave M") got real real blacked out about five years ago -- the year we got a solid rain and the infield was slop. He got hammered and was mud sliding and mud wrestling in the infield. The usual. 

At the time, his house was off Eastern Parkway by Manual Stadium. Dave decides the best route home after Derby is to hop on the train outside of Papa Johns/Churchill Downs and take it to Crittenden Drive. As it picks up steam, he freaks out a little, hops off and jumps into the pile of rocks on the side of the train tracks. Cars coming home from Derby that are stopped at the tracks because of the train are then privileged enough to see some drunken idiot covered in dry mud and now blood who just hopped off a moving train.

Dave proceeds to walk to the Dairy Kastle and order food, where a van with church ladies offers him a ride home to his house four blocks away. He showers and then heads back out for the rest of the night.

Limo-Bombing Warren Moon

We walk out of Churchill, we have no car (no one can drive anyway), and we have no plan. A friend, knowing this, decides to simply hop in a limousine with an open door and no one around it. No one else has the stones to follow him, but we all wait to see how it plays out so we just stand there waiting. About two or three minutes later, Warren Moon and an entourage get in the limo. About five seconds after that, our friend gets out of the limo. I still can't really remember how we ended up getting home. Sorry.

Don't Get In The White Van

Every year we hired the same driver to shuttle us roundtrip on Derby Day. In 2010, the phone rang at 8 a.m. and my girlfriend told me that our driver was in jail due to a wild Oaks night, but she had found someone on Facebook that was willing to drive us. So we had to meet in the parking lot of Bed Bath and Beyond to catch the ride, and he seemed like a nice enough guy.

We get dropped us off at the Speedway on Taylor Blvd. and then we're off to the races. It's a great day, and then after the last race we go back to the Speedway and climbed into what looked like the same white van. We waited about 15 minutes, and then the van pulled out and the driver announced as he turned onto Taylor Blvd. that we would be back in Lexington in about 1.5 hours. I lived in St Matthews. It's always an adventure on Derby weekend.

The Abandoned Out-of-Towner

This one isn't about me but about one of my buddies named "Kyle." It was a year after I graduated from UofL in 2000. Me moving back home to Jasper, Indiana (about an 1 hour 15 minutes from the Ville), I couldn't let go of my Derby fever as I went to every one except my freshman year while I was in school. 

So I got one of my good friends, Paul to charter a bus down to Churchill that race day morning. Got about 35 people to go on the bus which turned into a booze cruise if you know what I mean. Even got Paul to do a bit of narrating when we got close to the track. Such scenery there so he just had to capture. 

Our bus was one of many in the parking lot but I told the crew to meet back at least an an hour after the Derby. Everybody went in and of course we did our best sneak jobs regarding the alcohol. The best one of the group was a couple guys drilled a hole in the cooler lid and filled it up with whiskey. Duct taped around it and good to go. We got to the infield and boy did everyone have a good time. Majority of the crew were Derby Virgins so it was something to see for their eyes the first time. 

After the race everybody made it back except for 2 people. Cell phones were kind of hit and miss back then. Well our buddies Nick and Kyle were not heard of or seen. We waited about 2 1/2 hours for them and no signs. We took a group vote on leaving and it was unanimous and we headed out. We were one of the last to leave the parking lot. As we were pulling out near the exit there was Nick. Got in the bus and gave everyone hugs as he thought for sure he was going to be left. We asked if he saw Kyle, but no sign. 

So we proceeded back to Jasper and got back to the bar Headquarters from where we left that morning. About an hour later here comes Kyle into the bar with a hero entrance. We couldn't believe it. How did he get back? Well he said he got lost after the Derby Race and ended up going out of the track near turn 3 instead of 1 where all the buses were. By the time he got to the bus parking lot, the last bus was heading out. So he proceeded to find a payphone to call his girlfriend. Her and her dad wound up driving all the way down to Louisville to pick him up. Had to have been an interesting drive home. 

But he wasn't mad at us. Just drank a bit too much and got lost.