A Derby Story 


Some days I can remember this like it was just yesterday and then there are others when I’m not sure of the details. Like when did this occur? Which year was it? For the sake of brevity, I’ll go with that it happened 7 years ago.

A close friend, who has since departed, God bless his soul, and I were at the track for Oaks Day. We were eager to get there since I had secured a parking spot at an owner’s lot just a short walk from the infield gates. When we got in there was already an enormous crowd. I never liked getting there at the crack of dawn when my kids did.

The day was sunny and the drinks were flowing. On our way to get lunch and another beer, I noticed that there were dark clouds forming over the far side of the track. I turned to Frank and said we have to find a place to hide because it looks like it is going to pour soon. Not more than a minute after that was said we felt the first drops.

Not wanting to get soaked we ducked into the first door available. Our only problem was it was the exit for the infield ladies bathroom.

Standing at the sinks were two attractive women who looked to be in their forties. For two guys in their sixties, this was going to be fun. We struck up a conversation as the rain poured from the sky. We found out that they were from Minneapolis and that they were sisters. One had won a sales contest from her company. The prize was a weekend in a Louisville hotel and track tickets for Friday and Saturday.

They asked what we did, how we got in (they seemed slightly impressed when I told them I had owner passes). The conversation went on about 15-20 minutes but seemed like forever since Frank and I were enjoying ourselves.

When the deluge ended and we started to exit, they asked where we knew of a local bar/restaurant that everyone in the area visited on Oaks and/or Derby Day. I said I sure do it is called Check’s Café and it is in Germantown not too far away.

We exited the bathroom and said good-bye never to think what might happen next. When we got back to our infield group, we told the story of meeting the ladies to parts of my family and guests. As the day went on the story became more embellished. You know how it goes when you drink to excess. It is like a fishing story.

Later that day we decided it was time to head to Check’s before the Oaks race started. Years of doing this, we knew that the crowd leaving is at its lowest the hour before the big race, so we said our goodbyes to all and made our way to Check’s.

When we got to the restaurant, we walked toward the upstairs room where our wives and other family members were congregated. Over the years the bar owner saved this space for us and today was no different. As we walked, should have said stumbled up the steps, Frank’s wife Janet spotted us. When we sat down she asked me “Oh my goodness how much have you two had to drink?” There was no easy answer since I couldn’t remember. So, I just blurted out, I think I had less than her husband.

As things started to settle down low and behold, who came walking up the stairs to the back room with food in hand, but the ladies from Minneapolis. We made eye contact and they blurted out “Never thought you would see us again, did you?”

Well at that time Frank’s wife’s head spun towards me like in the Exorcist movie and she asked “Who are they?” My response and Frank’s attempt at a response was we met them in the ladies bathroom this afternoon.

To tell you that that honest response did not go over too well is an understatement. I invited them to sit with us and within an hour it seemed like we were all old friends. So much so that we and our wives took them back to the hotel where they were staying. We never saw or spoke to them again, but the chance meeting has been a story told many times to friends over the years.

Submitted by: Mickey McFarland - friend of Frank Warken, deceased

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