Kentucky Derby Updates | Trump appears at Churchill Downs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Latest on the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby (all times EDT):
Former President Donald Trump arrived at Churchill Downs for his $75,000-per-person fundraiser around 6 p.m. His entrance was shielded from the general public and the press. He was ushered into the track through a side hallway that had been used by caterers and staff, where his entourage erected an American flag and a Kentucky flag to greet him. Before he arrived, staff pulled curtains to corral the press and public away, guarded by FBI agents in camouflage with automatic rifles.
Whispers of Trump’s arrival passed through the crowd that backed up for twenty minutes. Some shouted his name, “Trump, Trump, Trump.” Others seemed irritated at the delay.
“This is ridiculous,” one woman grumbled.
Some got a glimpse of the former President through a short break in the curtains and a rumbled passed through the crowd.
Some cheered, some booed as the former president was whisked up to the high-priced clubhouses on the upper floors.
Then the curtains parted and everyone went on their way.
The details of Trump’s event, including who is in attendance were not made public.
Bettors are throwing their money behind Epicenter and Taiba, toppling Zandon as Kentucky Derby favorite less than 75 minutes before the scheduled 6:57 p.m. post time.
Both colts are listed as 5-1 choices, with Messier at 6-1 and Zandon now at 7-1. Taiba made the biggest jump after drawing 12-1 odds on Monday, getting $3.181 million in wagers. That’s just behind Epicenter at $3.380 million, who began as the 7-2 second choice behind Zandon.
Zandon, the 3-1 morning line favorite on Monday, has $2.698 million in wagers while Messier has $2.864 million.
Spectators have crammed in to the first full Kentucky Derby since the coronavirus pandemic began, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in lines to place their bets and buy mint juleps.
Churchill Downs was packed by early afternoon, hours before the biggest race of the day.
For two years, the pandemic upended the typical extravagance of Derby Day. The 2020 running was delayed until Labor Day weekend and held without spectators. Last year’s race strictly limited the number of tickets sold. This year, Churchill Downs hoped to again surpass 150,000, its pre-pandemic numbers.
“It feels like we have a normal life again,” said Michelle Conforto, a milliner from California arriving for her 12th Derby who was delighted to have to wade through thick crowds again. “It’s a milestone for us to move forward.”
Her husband, Joe, wore goggles and a stuffed horse named Miss Fancy on his head, decorated in yellow and olive to match his wife’s elaborate feathered hat, which encircled her head a foot in every direction. They are Derby fixtures and people stop them to take pictures.
“We get to spend time with people and enjoy our lives,” Michelle Conforto said. “Today we feel free.”
Spectators are returning in droves for the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, which aims for close to full capacity beneath the Twin Spires for the first time since 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
Zandon is the 3-1 morning line favorite and will start from the No. 10 post. Epicenter is the 7-2 second choice from the No. 3 post, with Messier the 8-1 third choice from the No. 6 post. He and stablemate Taiba (12-1, No. 12) are being guided by Tim Yakteen, who took over training for suspended Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
At a press briefing Saturday, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear brushed off a question about former President Donald Trump’s rumored appearance at Churchill Downs, noting that Derby Day is “a day of festivity, where hopefully we put any divisions aside.”
“Hopefully, we focus more on the race in front of us than any races in our future,” Beshear added. “It’s a chance for everybody to see that Kentucky is welcoming to anyone who wants to come to this track, former president included.”
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