Sunday, May 2, 2004
A special place in their hearts
For many, going to Downs
upholds meaningful tradition
By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LOUISVILLE - Tim Jones of Hamilton attended the 130th Kentucky Derby to celebrate his marriage.
Keith Jones of Hamilton waded through a muddy infield to renew old friendships from his days at Ohio University.
And Elizabeth Hertenstein of Morrow came to continue a family tradition started by her grandfather.
Churchill Downs is more than 100 miles down Interstate 71, yet residents of Greater Cincinnati make elaborate plans each year to attend the greatest two minutes in sports.
For each, the Derby holds a special place in their hearts.
"I met my wife here," said 29-year-old Tim Jones, who sported a straw hat. "It is kind of like an anniversary for us. I wouldn't miss it for anything."
He, along with his older brother Keith, were two of 110 people who arrived at the Downs on two rented school buses. He helped start the trek 10 years ago with fellow Ohio University alumni.
"Us loading up in those buses was a great sight to see this morning," said Keith Jones, whose group hosts a giant Derby Eve party at a friend's house in Louisville. The bash is so elaborate they hired the rock group Puddle of Mudd to perform.
The brothers' Derby pick this year: Smarty Jones, who won.
"How can we not bet on that horse?" Keith Jones said, smiling. "We were at the Arkansas Derby this year when he won, so we think we'll bring him luck today."
While the Jones brothers braved the infamous infield crowd of bare-chested college kids, Hertenstein sat in a coveted clubhouse box seat among women wearing hats suitable for the cast of Gone With the Wind.
Hertenstein's grandfather, a noted Louisville physician, first got the seats. When he died, they were willed to Hertenstein's grandmother. On her passing, they went to an uncle who rotates them among family members. The last Derby Hertenstein attended was seven years ago.
"It's a long family tradition to come to the Downs," she said. "I want to keep it alive. I remember my grandparents coming to the track every year.
"My grandmother would buy buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken and take it to the track to share with everyone who sat in the family's box. It was a big deal."
She said her grandmother would always tear up for "My Old Kentucky Home," the state's official song played before each running of the Derby.
"It just doesn't get better than this," she said.
130th KENTUCKY DERBY
wins with sentimental journey
Elliott, it's just a race - but a big one
Jones draws a crowd at home track
sees good things in the future
special place in their hearts
make for a contrasting infield
ads raise no fuss
gallery: The race
Photo gallery: The scene
FLYING PIG MARATHON
push each other in Pig Relay
age 82, marathoner's been a long time running
test doesn't trouble Panthers
lose 4th straight
Faraway fan reminds us of what we have
will test free agency
AL: Tigers hand
Mariners eighth loss in 10 games
NL: Rockies get
win against Braves
need funding for new stadium
hoping to shake his past
struggles require patience
McEachern exudes that star quality
combine continues to grow
Walton-Verona both lose in All 'A' Classic
Sistrunk hurdles to Roosevelt event victory
take 'blue-collar' approach to winning
season ends in Game 7
remain alive on Sakic OT goals
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
celebrates 18th birthday with the lead
shorty goal tops Russia for USA
baseball team has 29 wins, 5 losses, 1 proposal
may get another shot at Illini
now is 'beautiful' and successful
quick chat with ... Mark Cassis
up with that?