Derby weekend is about safety

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Editorial: May 2, 2013

ISSUE: Derby time is here
You can’t be too careful

The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby will provide another shining moment in our state’s history. It is so much more than just a horse race. It truly is Kentucky’s opportunity to showcase all it represents.

Steeped in tradition and glamour, the Kentucky Derby encompasses everything Americans love. From the weeks of pageantry to the celebrities on Millionaire’s Row to the exquisite animals, all eyes will be on Churchill Downs this first weekend in May.

Only at the Kentucky Derby can you have a $1,000 mint julep and feel good about it.

This year’s event will have an added sense of safety awareness because of the horrific bombings during the Boston Marathon. In 2012, 113,000 people attended the Oaks on Friday and 165,000 came to Churchill Downs the next day for the Derby.

The mere volume of people means security will be a responsibility of everyone and not just event staff and police.

The Kentucky Derby represents the first national and international event since the tragedy in Boston and is a prime target for copy cats. It is safe to say security will be heightened at this year’s event and rightfully so.

It also is important to note Churchill Downs officials and the Louisville Metro Police Department should be recognized for their continued excellence in managing the safety of hundreds of thousands of people at the facility during the two days of the Oaks and Derby. It is a significant accomplishment and a reflection of their dedication that an event of this magnitude is in its 139th year without a major incident involving patron safety.

We encourage everyone to embrace all that is Kentucky at the event this week. The sights, the sounds, the hats, the Oaks “Pink Out,” the Twin Spires and the characters packed into the infield all are ingredients in what could be described as the biggest and best celebration of a sporting event in the United States.

Enjoy the festivities to the fullest, but do so with an eye on staying safe. Be observant, and should you see something that doesn’t look right, then rest assured it probably isn’t. If you see something, say something. Find a LMPD officer or a event staff member and let them know immediately. If everyone at Churchill Downs accepts that responsibility and is alert and aware, this will be another weekend of success for Kentucky.

There are three key points for you to remember at the track this weekend: Have fun, stay safe and wager wisely.

This editorial is a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.