It’s cliché to say, but in Kentucky, the first Saturday in May is truly the highlight of the year. This year, I was lucky enough to experience the 138th Kentucky Derby in person, and my day was unforgettable.
It started, as it always does, with a Derby pick. My horse was Creative Cause, an obvious choice for someone in my line of work. All that was left was to find a hat and we were off to the Kentucky Derby.
We parked on the backside and took a brief stroll near the barns before heading to the front. In the clubhouse we were impressed by beautiful people, gorgeous surroundings and incredible service. Mint Juleps in commemorative Derby glasses were the drink of the day, and celebrities mingled freely with those of us who were not so much the object the camera desired. I won’t lie, I was completely blown away when I realized I was casually hanging out on a balcony next to Andre Agassi, or when I walked past Tom Brady twice, like it was no big deal. (Oh, okay, I totally stopped and took a picture. I’m not that cool.)
The highlight of the day, though, came when we met the trainer of Creative Cause and found out we were going to the paddock to greet the Derby horses. Standing in the Paddock, with crowds all around, watching as the horses paraded right by us–there aren’t words to describe it. Growing up in horse country, surrounded by all these beautiful farms and even more beautiful horses, you come to hold a certain amount of respect and pride for all that surrounds the sport. And the crowning glory of the sport, is of course, the Derby. To be in the middle of that is simply awe-inspiring.
I was already in a state of complete amazement, so when we all headed through the tunnel to the winner’s circle to watch the race, it was the pinnacle of an already perfect day. As I stood in the middle of Churchill Downs, looking back at the enormous crowd towering all around, singing “My Old Kentucky Home,” I was overcome with love for this great tradition.
It’s hard to get much luckier than I was at that moment, so I tried not to be disappointed when Creative Cause didn’t show. We celebrated a win for I’ll Have Another.
Meanwhile, back on the marketing front–because this is a marketing blog, remember?–our friends at Keeneland were excited to see the blanket of roses going to one of their own sales graduates. In fact, of the field of 20 horses running the Derby race, eleven were Keeneland graduates, including the top two.
Prior to the Derby, Keeneland sent subscribers an email introducing their Keeneland Select online wagering. They received many new members after launching this campaign, making it a significant success.
As soon as the Derby race ended, Keeneland immediately released an email campaign of congratulations, which was both relevant and timely:
A similar campaign went out the previous day following a win in the Oaks by Believe You Can, a Keeneland September Sale graduate: