My Oaks/Derby Week in Photos

This year’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby week was definitely memorable to me—from the heartbreaking phone call I made to John Greathouse about his ill-fated filly Devil May Care, to the quiet beauty of the descending twilight on Oaks night, to the thrilling Derby finish of Animal Kingdom and the realization I had scored the biggest triumph of my betting career (which isn’t saying much, but I was still elated!).

It was truly a week I won’t forget. Now, as I’m back to semi-reality on this languid, summer-like day, I feel as if Derby/Oaks week was gone in a flash. As usual, I’m already looking forward to Breeders’ Cup.

Instead of making a top 10 list of memories this year, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite photos from throughout the week. One of my much loved things to do on Derby week is take my little point-and-shoot camera with me to the backstretch of Churchill Downs in the early dawn and snap away at everything I see. And of course, carrying it with me on the big days of Derby and Oaks is also a must.

Without further adieu, here is this year’s Oaks and Derby through my eyes:

Joyful Victory and Larry Jones surveying the crowd on the backstretch

The Factor receiving his bath in the misty dawn

Backstretch kitty, begging for love

Crowds gathering to observe the morning works

Horses heading out to stretch their legs

Lady Gaga impersonator at the press party

View from the paddock on Oaks day

And they're off in the Oaks!

Oaks-winning owner John Fort parading Plum Pretty after her victory

Oaks-winning trainer Bob Baffert helping jockey Martin Garcia hoist the trophy

John Fort towering over Baffert:)

Celebrity chef and Thoroughbred owner Bobby Flay being interviewed on the Derby red carpet

Animal Kingdom with the roses following his impressive Kentucky Derby win

A winning ticket!

What were some of your favorite memories of this year's Derby? I want to hear!


Leave a Comment:

Panty Raid

Hey Great Pics !!! I agree about DMC I had her last year in the derby (hope to get a letter of to the Greathouse Family also)and I played the same Jock this year as a saver ticket 70 WP on #16.Truth be told my key horse was MMM but I did have enuff sense to play Jonny Vee have been playing him the past 5 years I know I kinda botched it I should have had him to the gills    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He will be coming my way and I hope to get some nice pics also I may go to my first preakness have been betting the TC for 20 + years.I only live 40 mins from the track!!!!But I always liked Laurel better thats the first track my father took me too!!!OHHH by the way who is the author of this blog?  Also I was at the Black eyed Susan when Panty Raid won what a Day once again Glencrest Farm Rocks !!!!!!!!!

09 May 2011 7:21 PM

great pics, congrats on the winning ticket.

09 May 2011 10:09 PM
A Horsey Canuck

Esther, I always look forward to your columns, as they have the same flavour, albeit much younger and with less history than "the man", Steve Haskin. For me, like Steve, you seem to write with feeling, knowledge from research, and in a way that is easy for 'just a horse racing fan' to comprehend. Keep it upand glean all that you can from "the best" at your craft. I might have to start an Esther Marr binder. I do have a 2011 Triple Crown binder started and this article, with your great photos, will go in there. I also have electronic copies of everything. Thanks Esther. Now, on to the Preakness!

10 May 2011 5:44 AM

Esther: it was my first Derby (and Oaks).  I have already bored people with my comments on Jason's blog.  However, I, too, have my picture of the winning ticket on the Derby and I am still crowing about that (even though he was my guts-say-to-bet-him ticket and not among my more scientific, carefully thought out bets -- who finished 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 13th or 14th.)

I lost all my money on Oaks day but wore pink and a hat and looked damn good (at least, in my own mind).

It was fun but by my reckoning, my drink score was 1 Mint Julep to 4 Lillies.  (Like those Lillies!)

10 May 2011 5:08 PM
Esther Marr

Thanks so much, guys! I love hearing about your respective betting experiences, good and bad:) A Horsey Canuck: your comment means a lot. I haven't been around the industry near as long as some of my colleagues (this was my sixth Derby), but I feel like I've grown and learned a lot since my time as an intern in 2006, not even knowing what the terms "sire" and "dam" meant:) It's a crazy, yet intoxicating industry that always keeps me on my toes! It's also impossible for me to not let my heart get involved in the game. I appreciate your kind words.

11 May 2011 9:07 AM
Stellar Jayne


Thanks for the opening photo of the blog with Devil May Care.  She was one of my most favorite fillies. I would have expected more from the B-H regarding her passing, but except for your column B-H seemed to ignore her demise.  Thank you for following through with her picture.

11 May 2011 9:34 AM
Esther Marr

Stellar Jayne, the opening photo is actually Joyful Victory, not Devil May Care. I did write this story about her death, however on the day we found out:

11 May 2011 9:46 AM
Soldier Course

I agree. Esther Marr Zunker's name indeed deserves to be spoken in the same breath as Steve Haskin's. Her star is turning into a rising sun. I love these photos.

11 May 2011 2:30 PM
Stellar Jayne


Thank you for your response, my mistake!  However, I do have a picture of Devil May Care from a B-H issue taken about 2 yrs. ago.  At first glance Joyful Victory resembles DMC a great deal.  She couldn't resemble a better filly!

Please keep writing these great columns, I look forward to them.

11 May 2011 5:43 PM
Panty Raid

Speaking of memories what a mistake the DRF people made not having Peb's cartoon on the cover WOW I guess money money money changes everything!!   I have heard the preakness will be his last cover shot ---Peb you will be missed

12 May 2011 12:12 AM

Recent Posts

More Blogs