Last weekend Flyers Mike Knuble, Mike Rathje, Derian Hatcher and Turner Stevenson jumped in Rathje's brand new 44-foot RV and headed down to the Kentucky Derby. Here, Knuble gives his account of the experience.
After the season ended and we were just sitting around the Skate Zone, some of the guys had talked one day about getting up and doing something a little different. Mike Rathje got this new camper bus, so we all said we should go down to the Kentucky Derby for the weekend. We all knew Chris Therien was a partner for one of the horses, Flashy Bull, so we decided to go down. He was already going to be down there, so we thought we should go down and check it out and give him a little support. None of us had been there before, so it was the perfect idea and time for a little road trip.
Rathje's RV is really nice. It's the type that when you park it, you hit a couple of buttons and the sides move out to make it bigger on the inside. The only downfall was the televisions wouldn't work while he was driving it.
We left Thursday night around 8:00 p.m. The drive was long, and we split it up the first night. We drove about six hours and then stopped in a parking lot behind a Bob Evans restaurant. We slept there and got up before we drove another six hours. Rathje fit well in his new RV, since he is all certified as a trucker. He owns an oilrig transport company up in Alberta, and that's what he did during the lockout.
It got to be late on Friday afternoon so we tracked down a hotel that had a spare room because we needed showers and a place to get out of the trailer and stretch our legs. After that we were on our way. By the time we got cleaned up and got going it was about 7:00 p.m. at night so we just grabbed some food and hung out. The races were going on all day Saturday, so the sooner that we could get up and get going, the better.
We talked to Chris before the trip and he told us that we had to bring a dress suit. Everybody there is really dressed up. The Derby is famous for the big hats on the women, but really it is everyone that is dressed up really nicely. We knew that if we were going to be with the owners of Therien's horse that we couldn't just show up in jeans and a t-shirt. You have to make sure you're looking nice.
There's a ton of socializing going on down there. You just kind of go from one place to another. We spent a lot of time with Therien's ownership group, which had the Stanley Cup there. There is certainly no shortage of events and parties going on.
The race itself is just 90 seconds long and there is all of this hype before it happens. There are tons of races going on Friday and Saturday, but I would say it's more about just hanging out and the pageantry of it all. I wish the race were a lot longer, because it sure was over pretty quick.
I think there are a couple of things in sports that are American icons, and being at Churchill Downs is one of those sporting events. There are some things I think you have to see as a sporting fan and the Kentucky Derby is one of those. It was a ton of fun and I was very impressed with it from the start to finish.