Kentucky Derby infield stench

7:50 AM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
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By Mark Boxley, Louisville Courier- Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Litter and other discarded items lined the stands and infield at Churchill Downs Sunday, left behind by the more than 150,000 people who braved the rain Saturday to watch the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.

"It's pretty bad," said David Arroyo, a Churchill Downs employee for more than 40 years who was overseeing Sunday's cleanup effort.

He estimated the amount of garbage would be in line with, or a slightly less than, years past at about 40 tons. Spectators faced tighter restrictions on items they were allowed to bring in Saturday, which meant slightly less trash, he said.

More than 200 students from area schools started working on the cleanup at about 8 a.m.

Fairdale High School junior John Masterson was slowly scooting a large barrel loaded with more than 100 pounds of garbage with a fellow member of the school's baseball team. He's been part of the post-Derby cleanup crew for four years. Even with all the muck and sometimes unmentionable garbage, he said he still tries to "make it as fun as I can."

This was probably the easiest of his four years, John said. Even with the rain and mud, there was less garbage.

The infield had been turned into a muddy slop, and John said getting it cleaned up was a daunting task.

"But with teamwork we can get it done," he said.

Post-Derby cleanup is a fundraising opportunity for school groups and sports teams, said Bullitt East High School head football coach Darrell Vincent, who has worked the Sunday after Derby for 19 years.

"It's a good team-building activity too," he said.

Given all the years he's participated, Vincent said there's not much he hasn't seen.

"You can find just about anything you can imagine (during the cleanup)," he said.

When Vincent first started in the mid-1990s, "people could bring pretty much anything in," he said. "So you'd spend hours picking up card tables, folding chairs, all that kind of stuff."

Reporter Mark Boxley can be reached at (502) 582-4241 or on Twitter at @boxleyland.

Louisville Courier- Journal

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