Meet the Kentucky Derby's Bugler - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Meet the Kentucky Derby's Bugler

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- You hear it throughout Derby Day with a level of anticipation. But when it's time for the race, a 33-note song brings the crowd to its feet.

"The Call to the Post" is one of the timeless traditions of the Kentucky Derby. 

It alerts trainers, jockeys, and fans that the greatest two minutes in sports is about 10 minutes away.

"To get to play for the Derby is a real honor," said Steve Buttleman.

For nearly two decades, Buttleman has sported a red jacket and riding helmet. He's the musician behind the bugle.

Originally an Iowa kid, he came here for college at U of L and decided to stay. 

"I loved Louisville, I loved Kentucky, and I ended up staying here," Buttleman explained.

He's been playing "The Call to the Post" for 20 years now at just about every race Churchill has hosted. It's taken a lot of practice and downtime. Still, the thrill of the Derby gives him goosebumps.

"I see the twin spires and the people having a great time, and I get a little choked up. I ask God, what did I do to deserve this," he said.

Like any live performer, there have been hiccups along the way. Buttleman recalls one Sunday a few years back...

"I don't know what came out of the horn. The audience reacted. You could hear this gasp," he said with a grin.

When it's time on Derby Day, you can bet Buttleman will be on.

"The audience expects it," he added. 

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