Derby Fever

My bucket ran over last year when by husband presented me with Derby tickets for the 143rd Running of the Roses at Churchill Downs. The race has been nicknamed the “Run for the Roses” because the winner is given a garland of more than 400 red roses sewn together, a tradition that dates back to 1932. There is a reason they call it “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports,” as frivolous as it sounds those two minutes didn’t disappoint. Growing up I loved everything to do with horses. I rode and competed in English Style in upstate New York for many years.

The Kentucky Derby held May 5th is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, and is followed by the Preakness Stakes on May 19 and the Belmont Stakes on June 9. The 1 1/4-mile race runs on a dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Last year the dirt turned into mud after a morning deluge but that didn’t stop our fun.

Twenty horses enter the Derby, which is one of the largest fields in horse racing. To qualify for the Derby, horses and their jockeys travel on the road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races featuring a point system. The top four finishers of those races earn points and the top 20 horses from the 35 races earn a spot in the starting post in the Kentucky Derby race.

Churchill Downs is packed with over 150,000 fans all dressed to the nines with hats and sipping mint juleps hoping for their pick to be the one lucky windfall of the race. In fact, Always Dreaming, last year’s winner, did provide a little pay day for us helping me to recoup the cost of my dress and hat. The whole weekend was a lovely experience full of southern charm and hospitality. You should plan on spending a good amount of money to check this bucket list item off.

Places to Stay

During the Derby you have hotels that are high-end and make their year during Derby weekend and a selection of very nice Bed & Breakfast establishments. The B & B options were less pricey but not by much.

We stayed at a charming bed & breakfast close to Churchill Downs called The Samuel Culbertson Mansion. This was a good plan because the day of the race it rained and we were able to take a quick rickshaw ride right into the stadium. Many visitors were traipsing through the mud, dresses and white slacks ruined and splattered as they fought their way into the Downs. 

Places to Go & Things to See

Louisville can be summed up in three words, bourbon, horses & history. Before the Derby went off, we had a drink at the historic Brown Hotel and toured a couple of the distilleries in downtown Louisville. The Galt House is another well-known stop for a drink or a bite. The Louisville Slugger Museum was a fun and interactive stop. You get to make a bat and take a few swings in a cage. When planning your trip reserve your dinner reservations ahead of time. Most of the restaurants are booked out months in advance. We ate at Bucks and 610 Magnolia.


Expert Insight

I don’t like to be negative but there was one area of dissatisfaction during our visit. Churchill Downs has very poor signage and flow. When we and the other 150,000 people were departing it was a sea of crushing bodies pushing and trampling one another to get out. For a world-class sporting venue like the Derby, I was shocked and disappointed by the experience. People were pinned against the tunnel walls and it was very uncomfortable. There were handicapped people who couldn’t get through and no one was around from the stadium to direct the flow or help. This needs to be improved or someone will get hurt.

The Race

Who will it be this year? The odds makers are abuzz with speculations. Betting is complicated. You have to take into consideration so many details including the horses’ pedigree, breeder, trainer, jockey, race position and past wins. Last year it rained a good amount and some horse are considered good “mudders” while others are not so great. The process of dissecting and selecting can be overwhelming and exhilarating. We were in section 113, Row 3 by the finish line and just under cover enough so we didn’t get wet when the relentless rain kept coming all day. The pomp and circumstance was rich, the Juleps were flowing and they were off. You’re out of your seat cheering as the blaze of horse’s race by. As the field narrows you can barely control your excitement as you see your horse, Always Dreaming, clomping his way to first place. You never know when another Secretariat or American Pharaoh is just around the corner.

Dreams do come true! This year, we’ll be watching from our living room but our memories will keep us smiling for years to come.

Here is to the field for 2018 and it’s off to the races on May 5th at 6:34 post time!

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Have We Become Comfortably Numb?

Heart In Rocks

As we all watch the news in horror I can’t help but wonder if we are growing numb to the evil in the world. It is easy to change the channel but with 49 dead and 53 wounded in Orlando in June and 84 dead and 202 wounded in Nice in July how can we continue to look away? It seems like every month there is another terrorist attack and they are getting closer and closer. According to Wikipedia, as of July 15, 2016 there have been 922 incidents of terrorism reported in the world.  Many of the attacks don’t make the news in remote places such as the outskirts of Egypt, small towns in Syria or women being stoned to death in Iraq.

June was one of the most deadly months so far this year, with 218 incidents and over 1822 deaths including the attack at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. So far July has seen over 84 incidents reported including both Dallas and Nice. It was shocking to see not even 24-hours after the Nice attack, Wikipedia chronicled two more incidents, tagging them to the bottom of their ongoing list. Wikipedia notes the type of attack, location, death toll, injury statistics, details and perpetrators. You can see the rankings and incidences by country. Not surprising Iraq ranks number one with over 2,714 incidences of terrorism in 2014, while the USA hoovers at 38 incidents for the same period. While that might sound like good news for us we still hold the number one spot for the worst terrorist attack in history on 911, when we lost 2996 souls.  Unfortunately, our friends in France are ascending the dubious ranks from the middle of the list climbing rapidly up to the top tier. The disturbing facts go on to show everything from car bombings to mass shootings. According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism 2014 showed a spike in deaths (43,550) and injuries (40,989).

*National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

*National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

On other sites, such as Islam Religion of Peace, there were shocking statistics with eerie benchmarks noting 28,822 attacks since 911. I shudder to think what their ultimate goal might be, mass annihilation or world dominance?  After looking at the statistics you can’t deny the facts. Tensions are rising and we are at a tipping point. We need to wake up, stop changing the channel and figure out what we can all do to diminish the hatred in the world and strive for peace both in our country and in our own communities.

If these statistics aren’t alarming enough, we also appear to be imploding from within. Not only are our enemies out to get us we can’t even seem to get along as a nation. This is an important election year for our country. We need to elect a leader who will address these issues and come up with a plan to keep our country safe and united instead of divided.

Maybe you’re like me, numb to the evil in the world, all the rhetoric and politics. Many of my peers have said they may not even vote this year. The very thought has crossed my mind too. Then I think of the women who were stoned to death or the families suffering with loss after all this senseless violence and I remember how fortunate we are to have the right to vote and make a difference.

Let’s hope it won’t come down to a matter of self-preservation for our way of life, customs and beliefs. I would hate to see a day when we become afraid to travel or have to change the way we live our daily lives as a result of fear. We need all the strength we can muster to defend against the larger threat of terrorism looming at our very doorstep just waiting to claim its next victim. It’s time to take a stand, get out of our comfort zone and come up with real solutions for a broken world.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

 

 

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Summer Camp Provides Life-Long Benefits

Horse camp image

For decades kids have been shuffled off to camp each summer to experience bonding, make new friends and commune with nature. One of the coolest things about camp is being exposed to new experiences which help to develop your self-esteem. Growing up I only went to camp one time and the primary attraction was horseback riding. Little did I know at the time Circle C Ranch in Attica, New York would hold a special place in my life and become an experience I would never forget.

Going to camp has a way of connecting you to nature and drawing you into the physical realm of being present. This was an amazing experience and in today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, getting kids to put down technology and get physical is crucially important.

I was a lonely child growing up with a twelve year span between myself and my oldest sibling. Summer camp allowed me to meet new friends and provided a sense of community. Camp also sparked an interest in hobbies I wasn’t exposed to and taught me how to be more independent.

Summer Camp

What attracted me to camp was the horseback riding program, which Circle C Ranch offered on a daily basis. I can honestly say I was hooked on riding after that summer. A lifelong passion ensued with private lessons, shows and competitions in English riding. As an adult, I still ride and enjoy the sport. Horses are such beautiful and soulful creatures and my love for them has never diminished.  

For decades kids have been shuffled off to camp each summer to experience bonding, make new friends and commune with nature. One of the coolest things about camp is being exposed to new experiences which help to develop your self-esteem. Growing up I only went to camp one time and the primary attraction was horseback riding. Little did I know at the time Circle C Ranch in Attica, New York would hold a special place in my life and become an experience I would never forget.

Going to camp has a way of connecting you to nature and drawing you into the physical realm of being present. This was an amazing experience and in today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, getting kids to put down technology and get physical is crucially important.

I was a lonely child growing up with a twelve year span between myself and my oldest sibling. Summer camp allowed me to meet new friends and provided a sense of community. Camp also sparked an interest in hobbies I wasn’t exposed to and taught me how to be more independent.

What attracted me to camp was the horseback riding program, which Circle C Ranch offered on a daily basis. I can honestly say I was hooked on riding after that summer. A lifelong passion ensued with private lessons, shows and competitions in English riding. As an adult, I still ride and enjoy the sport. Horses are such beautiful and soulful creatures and my love for them has never diminished.  

As much as I love riding there was another gift I received from Circle C Ranch.  Circle C was a mission based camp, something I didn’t realize when I enrolled. After my week was up the real gift appeared and has stayed with me my entire life.  Our family grew up Catholic, we went to church every Sunday and attended Catechism on Thursday nights. All the church going taught me about religion and history but never about having a personal relationship with God. This cataclysmic shift opened up a whole new world for many of us campers. During our week at camp we learned there was not some super being looking down waiting to catch us doing something wrong. Rather a loving father looking to create a relationship and connection with all of mankind. There was something peaceful stirring in my spirit.

This amazing lesson weaved a way into my being. I won’t say the promises and commitments I made didn’t falter through my high school and college years but some piece stuck and a small flame was ignited. The biggest gift of all was the exposure to a new perspectives and a life-long journey of faith resulted.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.


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Plan For Success And Success Will Follow, Hope For Success And You Will Wallow!


Hoping and wishing for success will not make a plan on it’s on. True success in life comes from making and carrying out a plan. Outline some small action steps in a written format, set milestones, attach measurable outcomes and be flexible to change. Using a formatted process allows for transformation be realized.    


The difference between success and failure can be as simple as one step forward. Taking action, no matter how small, can increase your chances of success exponentially. Here are some tips that can help you make change that will last:


  • When making a plan, don’t over complicate it. People have a tendency not to do anything because they are overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a plan down on paper. Start small,  it can be as simple as finding a mentor, signing up for a class or organizing your tax receipts for two hours each day. If you have positive expectations you will accomplish what you set your mind to.
  • Rid yourself of pessimism and at the same time set up milestones that reaffirm your progress. For example, by March 1, I will lose five pounds. Then visualize yourself five pound lighter. Along the way, acknowledge your small successes and reward yourself. By seeing and imagining can create the outcome you desire.          
  • If your plan is not working, be flexible and change direction. Don’t keep repeating the same action steps and hoping for a different outcome. Change your course and continue to focus your efforts on what is working. When you see results they will motivate you to continue. Adopt the mindset; failure is not an option. A sports team doesn’t take the field anticipating failure, they play to win. If you don’t see failure as an option you will win too. If you plan properly, take action, and visualize success you will achieve your goals in 2012!

 Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com

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