my lucky horseshoe from Churchill Downs

my lucky horseshoe from Churchill Downs

On the first Saturday in May, at Churchill Downs during The Kentucky Derby, there’s a tradition that goes along with the hat parade and the horse racing. It’s the singing of ‘My Old Kentucky Home’, written by Stephen Foster in 1853.

It became the state song in 1928 and although it isn’t clear when it was first sung at The Kentucky Derby, the playing of it prior to the race was written about in 1929. Yes, we refer to this race as the fastest or greatest two minutes in sports. But the traditions and events leading up to the race make it an all day party. When the music starts for this anthem, you will want to join in. Here are the words – make copies for your guests!

My Old Kentucky Home

The sun shines bright
On my old Kentucky home
‘Tis summer
The people are gay
The corn-top’s ripe
And the meadow’s in the bloom
While the birds make music
All the day!

The young folks roll
On the little cabin floor
All merry, all happy and bright
By ‘n’ by hard times
Comes a knocking
At the door
Then my old Kentucky home
Good night!

Weep no more my lady
Oh! Weep no more today
We will sing one song
For my old Kentucky home
For the old Kentucky home
Far away!

I am fortunate to have family in Louisville, Kentucky. My uncle and cousins introduced me to the best of horse country and I have taken the back lot tour as well as the usual ‘Millionaire’s Row’ and museum of Churchill Down’s history.

Once, while I was there, a beautiful gray horse threw a shoe right in front in me. When it was recovered and the horse walked over to the farrier, I asked if I could watch. Not only did they allow it, but they presented me with the shoe. It is still in my home – pointed upward so that the luck doesn’t run out – and the dirt from the track is compressed inside.
The stalls are sometimes named; i,e. D.
Wayne Lucas, for the owner of the horse that waits inside. These beauties have special diets and a routine of exercise and grooming. Enormous tractors sit off to the side, waiting to drag the track. It is magic and made no less spectacular by seeing what happens behind the scenes.

So as I sing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’, I’ll be thinking about my family, the good times we have had there, participating in Derby Week, the chuckwagon and all things Louisville!

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