Churchill Downs infield draws sparse crowd on Oaks Day with cold and rainy weather
As the day began, those few who had come to the infield found ways to stay dry, while others decided to turn around and head back home.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Oaks Day 2017 could better be called "Kentucky Soaks Day."
A steady rain and cold temperatures put a damper on the event Friday. On a day which usually is as much about high fashion as horses, the hottest accessory was a poncho.
For many, rain boots replaced high heels and wide hats served as rain shields.
But there were those who would not let the weather dictate their wardrobes. One group of young ladies wearing sun dresses said that looking good was more important than staying warm and dry.
In the infield, there were lots of wide open spaces. Those who did brave the elements got creative to try and stay dry, fastening tarps to the infield fence to form makeshift tents.
“It's actually working a lot better than we thought it would,” Oaks fan Brad Ashley said.
Ashley and his crew refused to let their Oaks Day be washed out. Why not just stay away?
“That's not an answer someone from Louisville, Kentucky should say," Ashley said. "I mean, why not just come out today and enjoy the weather whatever it is."
That's what John Henderson and friends intended. But soon after they arrived, they packed up and headed home.
“Well, it's just too cold and too wet," he said.
This was Kassie King’s first Kentucky Oaks, but she decided to call it a day early as she stood wrapped in a wet blanket.
“They were telling me about how they went the past two years when it was nice out, and they sat by the fences and actually got tanned," she said. "Hopefully, that will be next year for me."
Vendors of cold drinks may have suffered most from the wicked weather. One group was trying to raise money for Eastern High School's baseball team by selling frozen daiquiris.
“We get a percentage of the sales for the program, so we are figuring that zero percent of zero might be zero,” Melissa Gabehart said.
But Gabehart was trying to stay positive on a day when the wind chill was freezing out the profits.
“Come out to our booth if you need a frozen daiquiri today, please. Please.”
The forecast for Derby Day is a bit more promising with showers early, but it could clear by post time for the Derby.
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