Mendelssohn always makes his presence felt – screaming, roaring, occasionally even studish – to and from the racetrack and in case anyone missed him Thursday morning at Churchill Downs the large crowd of onlookers to see the Irish raider made him a dead giveaway.
A huge group gathered outside Barn 17, where Mendelssohn and his three stablemates cleared quarantine Wednesday afternoon, to see the son of Scat Daddy make his first public appearance at Churchill. Cameras clicked, writers scribbled notes and onlookers snapped photos on their smartphones at 7:46 a.m. when Mendelssohn, Seahenge, Threeandfourpence and Deauville walked single file out of the open chain-link gate, onto the pavement and toward the gap near the five-eighths pole.
The walk was short and quiet for the Ballydoyle quartet, done amidst plenty of traffic with the main track open for all horses to train following the 15-minute window for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks runners. Mendelssohn didn’t go at that time, his team opting to keep him with his travelling mates.
Mendelssohn met an even larger crowd once he stepped on the track with media, fans, horsemen and scores of others lining the outside rail and packing the elevated viewing areas along the backstretch. Hundreds more gathered on the porches of the luxury boxes on the frontside, fortunate fans taking the Dawn at the Downs breakfast program. Fred Mitchell, who bred Mendelssohn with his wife Nancy and sold the colt as a yearling to Coolmore for $3 million at the 2016 Keeneland September sale, was part of the crowd, joking that “they let me off the farm to come for my first Derby.”
To read the rest of Thursday’s Derby Diary, log in to The Irish Field.
The Irish Field and This Is Horse Racing are teaming up to produce a Kentucky Derby Diary tracking Mendelssohn’s historic bid. Each daily installment will focus on the exciting Irish challenger and the fourth is on Mendelssohn’s first day of training at Churchill Downs.