The World's Most Famous Horse Race Has A Side Community Of Hustlers

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"We've been parking cars here since 1978. It's my home repair income."
This weekend marks what the derby itself calls "147th renewal of The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports." Photographer Lili Kobielski has photographed the Kentucky Derby for years, looking mainly at the outlandish outfits of the patrons who come from all over to attend the event. "Part of my family is from Kentucky and they're involved in horses," she said, "so I spent many summers of my childhood in Louisville." She became much more familiar with the derby itself after she spent years photographing the fashion for Vogue, but she was also drawn to the people who lived in the neighborhood surrounding Churchill Downs. This year she went to the derby looking to speak with people who live in Louisville about how the race weekend impacts them. For many in the south Louisville area surrounding Churchill Downs, where the race has been held since 1875, tickets are expensive, and charging out-of-towners for parking is lucrative. 2020 was a difficult year for Louisville, the town where Breonna Taylor was shot and killed just over a year ago as the pandemic was escalating. This year surrounding the derby, people are cheerful and happy to be outside. "We just drink and have a good time," said Darnell Kinnison. "That's what the derby is all about. And the horse racing, of course, but drinking is like the number one thing." "The media descends on Louisville in May, but they're always focused on the inside of the track," said Kobielski. "I was excited to focus on the people of Louisville this year, and the hustle culture that pops up around the race."

Lili Kobielski for BuzzFeed News A group of derby-goers walking through the Louisville neighborhood on their way to the derby.

Kyle Hart, 35 "My buddy and his uncle bought these three houses. We were renovating them, but it just so happened to be around derby time. We made a little extra tip off the parking. If one parks here, we're blessed. I don't want to go too far out of line and be greedy about it. But we want to make the easy…
Pia Peterson
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