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    Bit to Do

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    Megan Hoskins rode Gato Del Sol in May 1982. He was made of a broomstick and cut-out paper. Hoskins’ silks and helmet, also paper. She didn’t win. (Her friend did.) But all these years later, Hoskins still shows up to the annual race: Louisville Collegiate School’s kindergarten derby.

    Now in its 58th year, the race is a tradition at the private school in the Highlands. The entire student body (pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade) attends, as do teachers, parents and generations of alumni. They decorate a maypole in frills and fully saturated colors. The seniors dress up for the “infield,” and spectators don hats. The construction-paper manes flitter in pinks, teals and fiery reds, and a blanket of tissue-paper roses awaits as antsy jockeys line up at the “starting gate,” marked by a spray-painted line in the grass. The Churchill Downs bugler, Steve Buttleman, amps the kids, er, jockeys up with a call to post. There’s even a “Millionaires Row,” with tickets to seating raffled through an annual fundraiser. Hoskins says Barbara Buddeke Ogden, who was a kindergarten teacher at the school for almost 30 years, fostered the tradition and success of the spectacle. (This year’s race is May 2, the Thursday before Derby.)

    Hoskins earned her Gato Del Sol mount for her times in earlier “stakes races” (practice runs that determine which horse each runner is paired with, based on the year’s actual Derby odds). Gato Del Sol — the real one — won the roses several days later. “My parents still kick themselves for not placing a bet that year in the real Derby,” Hoskins says.

    Her sons, now in fifth and ninth grades, ran the race when they were younger. “Neither one of them placed,” Hoskins says, “but I do remember Jude’s comment after he ran. He came up to us and excitedly announced, ‘I didn’t come in last!’”

    This originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Fun Run." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Mary Chellis Nelson's picture

    About Mary Chellis Nelson

    Mary Chellis Nelson is the managing editor of Louisville Magazine.

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