A Derby Story 



Usually at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, it’s shorts and t-shirts in the infield, and we’re lit long before noon. But this Derby Day, probably along about the fourth race, I was dressed in a suit, trying to blend in at the Governor’s Suite on the 6th floor of the Clubhouse (4th is “old money”, 5th is “new money” and 6th is celebrities). Here, waiters wearing white gloves were serving drinks and shrimp cocktail from silver trays. The view from the balcony overlooking the track was ah-mazing. You could almost pick out the drunks in the infield. Standing on that balcony, I swear I saw the biggest diamond not in the Smithsonian I’ve ever seen.

But I hadn’t snuck into the Governor’s Suite on a fake pass for shrimp cocktail or the view. I’d come to meet the guest of the Governor’s husband, Olivia Newton John - who was standing 20 feet from me!

My cohort in crime knew stuff and pointed out the “G-men” protecting the governor and her guests. They had little “G” pins on. They probably had walky-talkies in their wristbands and pistols too. I was standing there with my Derby program and pen in hand timing my approach to the main table. Then one of the G-men looked me straight in the eyes and slowly shook his head. “Don’t do it”. I had just turned 21 eight weeks ago and was now an adult – and would be tried as one. Oh, and Chuck Norris was at the next table! He could probably take me down even if I fought off the G-men! But sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I noticed the G-man turn around to talk to someone and decided right then that it was worth a night in jail and whatever followed. So, I made my move.

The next few minutes were a blur then and are still a blur. I was nervous AF, and walked - slowly – to the Governor’s table. Olivia looked right at me… and smiled. That smile! For probably the 75 millionth time, a fan approached her, and she smiled at me like I was the president of the fan club. Or who knows, maybe a handsome young suiter. Anyway, I don’t remember exactly what came out of my mouth, but it wasn’t poetry. But Olivia was kind and gracious. She autographed my program and we chatted briefly. She said she was enjoying the day.

A day I’ll never, ever, forget. What a lovely person Olivia was. I’m so glad to have met her if only briefly that one time.

Fortunately, after a couple mint juleps and some shrimp cocktail we made it out without being detected as imposter rich kids. Ha. Thanks eternal to my Cohort in Crime Gregg who made it all possible.

Beau Terry, Louisville native, is the lead "imposter" in and author of the story

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