Enthusiastic Crowd Starts Arriving Early at Downs despite Early Rains: Hundreds of Service Men Among Those Viewing Race from All Vantage Points, Daily Racing Form, 1945-06-11


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Enthusiastic Crowd Starts Arriving Early at Downs Despite Early Rains Hundreds of Service Men Among Those Viewing Race From All Vantage Points LOUISVILLE. Ky., June 9.— Despite the atrocious weather that prevailed in Louisville almost until noon of Derby Day, Col. Matt Winn, who has an uncanny knack of overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles, once again presented todays seventy-first Derby in its usual, flawless manner. While rain always poses a paramount inconvenience, the huge gathering was entertained in the comfort in which it has been accustomed to receive at Churchill Downs. Fortunately, the rain stopped before 11 a. m., but those who arrived in the steady downpour that persisted until that time found smiling, courteous attendants ready to escort them to their respective places. Usually a drab, deserted spot at that early hour, Churchill Downs spired stands were bustling with activity this Derby Day. Hundreds of uniformed attendants already were in their selected positions ready to handle seating functions smoothly, and this sizable force was augmented by hundreds of militiamen and others. Many of the attendants, hired especially for the occasion, were young women. Over the big dining room in the clubhouse section, hung a huge stenciled sign, informing all and sundry that the tables therein had been completely sold out for the day. However, the sign further pointed out that there were other restaurants throughout the huge plant where food and drink could be had. Sun Comes Out As usual, the flagpoles in the centerfield topped by Old Glory were flying the myriad colored banners of the United Nations. As the clock in the centerfield stand edged close to 11, the rain ceased abruptly and Old Sol, long conspicuous by his absence, began shouldering his way between still ominous but rereating clouds. The suns arrival, like a pre-arranged signal, prompted a wholesale rush to the lush green centerfield, which annually on Derby Day is flocked with enthusiastic fans. Additional color was lent the centerfield scene by the hundreds of servicemen who were on hand to see the Derby as the special guests of Colonel Winn. Their khaki, blue and white uniforms contrasted sharply with the civilian dress of the others. As usual, three bands were on hand to furnish the martial and popular airs, which have come to be so important a part of Derby Day. Stationed in the centerfield, the uniformed musicians lent additional color to the scene. Serving as guards at intervals around the race track proper, and other points, were 630 members of the Kentucky state militia, under Adjt. Gen. G. H. May. General Mays J subordinates included Cols. Lee F. Tinsley, j John A. Pelin, E. E. Pfansteil and J. J. MeGee, and Lt. Col. E. J. Fets. Half Filled by Noon While most of the box and reserved seat holders, sure of their accommodations, preferred to make leisurely arrivals, the plant was approximately half filled by noon, when the first of the days nine races was run. A majority of the boxholders were residents of greater Louisville, although many service men and women occupied boxes normally filled by out-of-towners who, forced to remain away because of the travel restrictions, had graciously turned their seats over to them. The two-story press box, perched high atop the clubhouse, was another busy spot on the premises. As usual, it was crowded with special writers, reporters and others from distant points, on hand to disseminate the story of todays Derby to an eagerly awaiting public. Flanking the press coop on each side were platforms where news photographers and movie cameramen stood by to record graphically the running of the famed race. The Derby also was broadcast over the Columbia Broadcasting System and will be short-waved overseas. It wasnt until about the fourth race that the crowd began approaching its peak. At that time resident manager Russell Sweeney estimated that close to 80,000 fans were within the enclosure. However, some very late arrivals still were passing through the turnstiles. It clouded up again and rain began falling as the field paraded for the fifth, prompting fans in the centerfield and others seated in the open boxes to don raincoats and raise umbrellas. Hoping it would be just a passing shower, these fans optimistically kept their fingers crossed. Although it was still decidedly threatening, the rain had stopped when the notes of "My Old Kentucky Home" summoned the sixten Derby aspirants from the paddock.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1940s/drf1945061101/drf1945061101_6_5
Local Identifier: drf1945061101_6_5
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800