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Bid for Derby party record fails
By Justin Kmitch | Daily Herald Staff

Peggy Mooney, left, and Bridget Mooney, both from Madison, Wis., enjoy a great view of Arlington Park as they take part in Derby Day on Saturday at the Arlington Heights track.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Tim and Cindy Ketchmark of Brookfield stay warm under a blanket while they enjoy Derby Day at Arlington Park.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

John Kasten of Glen Ellyn watches as Clarissa Myers of Naperville reacts after her horse finished third at Arlington Park's Derby Day.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/4/2008 12:03 AM

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Mother Nature wasn't in much of a Derby party mood Saturday at Arlington Park race track.

Just a few more than 15,380 race fans braved the rain and "less than favorable" temperatures to attend Saturday's event billed as the "World's Largest Derby Party" at the Arlington Heights track.

"The weather certainly didn't help us today," park spokesman Dave Zenner said moments after Big Brown crossed the Kentucky Derby finish line in Louisville.

"Mother Nature certainly impacted our attempt to set the world record for the largest party, but we'll give it a go next year."

Partygoers ranged from being "dressed to the nines" to the "regular rail birds in blue jeans and sweatshirts," Zenner said.

And a majority of them braved the rain to listen to performances from Chicago's Kimi Hayes Band, play on the rock-climbing wall and attempt to win an American Airlines ticket giveaway for two round-trip flights.

The highlight of the afternoon, however, was when the odds-on favorite crossed the finish line first.

"That was great," Zenner said. "The favorite won, so we'll have a lot of happy patrons cashing in tickets today."