LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Thousands came from all over the country wagering a good time at the infamous infield at Churchill Downs as fans returned to the Kentucky Derby. 

For many, the Kentucky Derby has been their first outing since the pandemic started last year.

Mary Keden, a college student from Connecticut, has always wanted to attend a horse race. 

“This is the first crowd we’ve been in where we feel like we can be safe and happy and we’re just like through the roof about it. It’s incredible and I’m so excited to be here," Keden said. 

Her friend, Clare Walby, another college student from Michigan couldn’t wait to get out in the sun.

“We’re having so much fun," Walby said. "Just to like be out in public because we’ve just been hanging out in our house all school year and we just finished our exams.”

Others like Kevin Bell, a horse racing fan from Chicago, was eager to place his bets.

“I came to make money!” Bell said. “Get to dress up, you don’t have to wear sweatpants anymore."

Due to the pandemic reducing the capacity at Churchill Downs, the crowd in the infield was much smaller for Kentucky Derby 147 than in previous years.

Saturday still had a such a big impact for the fewer than 23,000 fans who  were in the infield Saturday, and are hoping for an even bigger party next year.

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