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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Day Tripping, Yeah!

 Staycations emerged as a trend a while back and flourished even more when the economy took a dip. When I opened a hotel in Sunny Isles Beach FL some years ago, I was amazed at how many people would come from Weston for a long weekend. Recently, my husband and I decided to do a day trip and overnight at the Eau Palm Beach. Until this brief but wonderful experience I hadn’t truly understood the power of the staying close to home.

Although The Eau Palm Beach is just a short drive from our Jupiter home, it felt like a world away. This little gem is nestled on the south end of Palm Beach which is technically called Manalapan and recently ranked first place in the Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards for resorts in Florida, Atlantic and the Keys. Upon arrival we were greeted by the friendly valet, escorted into the lobby and met with a smiling associate offering champagne. In my opinion, The Eau strikes the perfect balance between authentic service versus intrusive service. We have all been out someplace where you can see people are trying just a little too hard. You take a sip of your ice tea and the server is back with a new glass. Causing you to recalibrate your drink with the appropriate balance of sweetener and lemon when the first glass was perfectly mixed.

As we were escorted to our room we received a briefing from a very informed bellmen. We settled in our room and went to check out the hotel. Luckily for us we were on the club level. We were delighted with the accommodating staff. Phillip who managed the lounge, was a perfect stranger upon check in but felt more like family by the time we left. The lounge offers lunch, snacks, light breakfast food, afternoon & evening wine and cocktails. On the way out you can even grab some retro-candy from a glass sphere filled with Lemon Heads and Hot Balls.

As the afternoon was lingering on we hit the pool for a refreshing dip. Just as we scouted out a couple of chairs in the shade, a pool attendant arrived offered towels and drink options. Again, the perfect balance of just in time service without being overwhelming. Heck yeah, we will take some towels and a frozen drink!

After a dip, we took a walk along the beach. In Manalapan, the beach tends to come and go with seasonal erosion. Walking south you barely see anyone along a stretch of private beach dotted with shells and an occasional jelly fish haphazardly washed up on shore. We cut our walk short so as to enjoy the Eau Spa experience.

The Eau Spa is as unique as the hotel and recently won Forbes Five Star spa rating. Once inside this little sanctuary you quickly see why. From the hanging swings in the common area to the wishing fountain the experiences is divinely decadent and pampering. There are cupcakes, rubber ducky mascots, flowing champagne and steam showers. We booked a couples massage and were treated to a stress busting rub complete with personalized aromatherapy scents, music to our liking and comfortable massage beds which inclined slightly upward upon our back flip providing immediate relief for our nasal passages.

Somehow all this activity had tuckered us out. Maybe it was the long drive, the stress of packing and travelling or the hustle and bustle of getting there. Oh wait, another benefit of the staycation: there is no hustle and bustle! We retired for a nap and then headed to dinner.

The Island of Palm Beach has many choices for shopping, eating and drinking. During our stay we dined at the hotel restaurant Angle for dinner. The food was great and one of their evening specials was a stuffed squash blossom. Yummy. The vibe was friendly and fine all rolled into one. We chatted it up a bit with the folks at the table next to us only to learn they were locals too. They come to Angle on a frequent basis and the waiter knew them by name. There goes the reputation of hotel restaurants and the myth of being overly priced with dull food. Angle exceeded my expectation on many levels.

The next morning we were going to stay for brunch but all this delicious food made us want to get moving. We enjoyed a lavish breakfast display in Temple Orange and hit the road refreshed and raving about the whole staycation experience.

I did enjoy a run through some of the most high-end consignment shops in the country. Be sure to try the Church Mouse and Goodwill on the Island. The stores are loaded with designer clothes, some even have the original tags on them and have never been worn. I picked up a pair of Burberry Sandals for twenty dollars. Score!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at or

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Job Candidates Behave Badly

By: Jodi Cross

With the new flood of graduates on the market getting a job can be a rigorous process. The competition is steep for good jobs so you should always do your best to stand out, but not in a negative way. I recently spoke with a number of placement firms and recruiters and was shocked by what they deemed the new world of interview candidates. After hearing some of these stories, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to etiquette and manners? I thought I would share some of the stories and you can decide for yourself.

After interviewing a number of applicants for a high level executive assistant position one highly qualified women was sent on to the next round. When she showed up to office for the interview she was wearing contact lenses that made her eyes look like she was an alien. The hiring manager was so distracted that she was ultimately disqualified. Not even the Vulcan Mind Meld could help her now.

Another trend today is many younger candidates don’t know how to dress appropriately. They show up wearing everything from crop pants to flip flops. One  applicant was professionally dressed and made it to the second round of interviews for a managerial job. The manager was impressed with her resume and skill set but when she showed up for the second interview she was wearing an large skull and crossbones hair ornament. The ornament poisoned that opportunity.

Many managers report that candidates text and accept phone calls during the interview process. If this wasn’t rude enough, one candidate took bad cell phone etiquette to a new level, she didn’t bring a purse with her  on the interview and had tucked her cellular phone into her bra. Every time she got a text or a phone call her chest would start to vibrate and jiggle.  Unfortunately, she wiggled herself right out of a job.  

Candidates also share to much personal information. When one manager asked a candidate how her day was going as an opening question, she replied that it was the anniversary of her divorce. No need for a full discloser agreement for this prospect.


If these stories don’t seem a bit strange to you and you are still looking for a job, perhaps a few tips might help you with your plight.

Strategies for landing a job:

1. Dress appropriately, your clothing choices represent your visual image and create a first impression. No one wants to see your tattoo collection or your chipped toe nail polish.

2. Leave the technology in your car or your purse on silent. Never place it in a inappropriate place on your body.

3. Watch what you post on Face book, Twitter and other social media sites. Employers look at all of your background information before making a hiring decision. If you are doing shots at the bar in your photo, that makes a employer wonder if you will show up for work on time.

4. Review your resume carefully for typos and research the company prior to your interview. The more you know the better your chances of rising above other candidates.

5. Set boundaries, if an interviewer asks you about yourself, don’t tell them you just got a divorce or your car is broken down. Be positive and energetic.

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at or


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