Press "Enter" to skip to content

Bonnie Comley Talks Derby to Me: First Timers at the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby attracts racing fans and one-time bucket listers like Bonnie Comley, Stephanie Keran, and Donna Ross, all flying into Louisville, Kentucky, for the horses, bourbon, food, and fashionable hats. Over 150,000 spectators attended the 149th annual Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is often called the most exciting two minutes in sports because it takes about 2 minutes for the horses to run the mile-and-a-quarter track, but the celebrations leading up to the race go on for days.

BroadwayHD founder Bonnie Comley said,” May is the busiest time of year for Broadway industry professionals, so I only have three days, and I wanted to do it right. I’m not sure if I will ever get back here.” Comley and her husband, Stewart F. Lane, had hats designed by the official Kentucky Derby Milliner, Christine A. Moore. “Christine started her career in theater, so we knew she would create something dramatic for this occasion, “ Comley said. Lane and Comley’s weekend included visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum and a bourbon pairing at Watch Hill Proper. Watch Hill Proper is a bourbon club with 1800 American whiskies from 300 distilleries with food by Chef Michael Crouch.

Stephanie Keran, also a first-timer at Churchill Downs, chose a white glove package from Derby Experiences, which included seats at the fifth-floor Finish Line Suites and door-to-door transportation from their hotel. Keran explained, “I don’t drink, but I am a foodie. The all-day buffet service at the balcony suite is better than I expected!” Keran skipped some of the races on Friday to stop at the Kentucky Art and Craft Museum. Keran considers herself a DIY crafter and repurposed hats for herself and her husband adding feathers and embroidered trim. Koran added, “I was told that I needed two hats, one for the first day, Kentucky Oaks Day, which should feature the color pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. The second hat is the bigger and worn on the second day, which is the Kentucky Derby race.”

Donna Ross, a finance executive, was interested in betting and celebrity sightings and a stop at the Louisville Slugger Museum with her husband. The couple also enjoyed a Bourbon Tour with Mint Julep Tours, “which includes door-to-door transportation for all the obvious reasons,” Ross quipped. Did they see any celebrities? “I think I saw Chris Pine. And I think some of the tall men are athletes. We heard Smokey Robinson, a guy from Shark Tank, and Jerry Mathers from Leave it To Beaver were here. But everyone looks like movie stars in these fabulous hats,” she said.

It was the first time for these couples, but will they return? Ross felt she won more money than she lost, so she will consider returning. Keran thinks she wants to make another attempt at a more oversized hat and spend more time at the museums. Comley and Lane claimed, “We had a great time. Next time we are coming with a group of friends. We are already planning next year’s trip!”