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The Vault: Traditions live on the day after the Kentucky Derby

The series pays homage to the day following the Kentucky Derby -- a day that's earned quite a reputation of its own.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs is full of traditions that continue the following day after the Kentucky Derby.

Looking back to 1979, about 128,000 fans attended the 105th Run for the Roses – eating, drinking, betting, but mostly littering.

Tons of trash was strewn from the Grandstand to the Infield, the betting windows and the Paddock area.

It wasn’t all waste that was left behind. In fact, some people unknowingly abandoned their winnings. Dozens upon dozens of winning tickets went unclaimed and for those doing the digging, it’s finder’s keepers.

“I found $18 dollars last year and cashed in on the money,” one person said.

Leftover trash is not the only after Derby tradition – the stars of the show have their own traditions after the Run for the Roses.

Derby winner Seattle Slew, who captured the Garland of Roses in 1977, was a big win for his owners.

Mickey and Karen Taylor purchased the colt at a Keeneland yearling sale for more than $17,000 and it was the ultimate return on their investment.

Credit: AP
Kentucky Derby winner Seattle Slew with exercise boy Mike Kennedy up top returns to his Pimlico barn in Baltimore, Md., May 20, 1977, after his final workout before tomorrow's running of the 102nd Preakness Stakes. The derby winner will face eight other contenders in the mile and three-sixteenths event. (AP Photo/William A. Smith)

The returns would keep coming.

After winning the Derby, Seattle Slew would go on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, becoming the 10th horse to win the Triple Crown.

Ten years later, Ferdinand tried to follow in his footsteps. His trainer, Charles Whittingham, said it was more than hope for tradition, it was the expectation.

“You got to go to the Preakness. The last guy got in trouble because he didn’t. They hollered at him because he won the Derby then he wasn’t a gentlemen,” he said in a 1986 interview.

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ferdinand, with jockey Bill Shoemaker in the irons, crosses the finish line to win the 112th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 3, 1986 in Louisville. (AP Photo/Rob Kozloff)

Unfortunately, Ferdinand finished second in the Preakness, putting his post-Derby plans to bed. For the man who called his race, it was just the beginning.

Mike Battaglia went on to have a tenured career as a track announcer at Turfway Park and Churchill Downs.

In the final day after Derby throwback, WHAS-TV is revisiting race day in 1933.

The 1933 Kentucky Derby was made famous for a photograph capturing a picture-perfect moment between jousting jockeys Don Meade and Herb Fisher.

Meade was riding Brokers Tip and Fisher was riding Head Play.

That photo, captured by then Courier Journal photographer Wallace Lowry, was called “Fighting Finish” as both jockeys raced toward the finish line. It’s regarded as one of the most famous photos in the history of the Kentucky Derby.

"If he didn't take that picture it would have been just another race. It would have been forgotten about. But he was fortunate enough to take that picture and that's what made all the controversy," Meade said.

Fast forward fifty years, WHAS11 was there for a special day after Derby reunion that had been decades in the making.

Credit: WHAS-TV
Jockeys Don Meade and Herb Fisher reunite in the 1983 WHAS-TV interview, 50 years after the "Fighting Finish" photo at the Kentucky Derby.

"I just think it was two ordinary people that got in a rough race and they were battling down to see who could get there first. And when I pushed him off me. He got a little excited, I think. And he just started battling with me and I’m battling with him and it was just man to man down to the finish," Fisher said.

Fate or not the race led Meade and Fisher to become friends and then neighbors with both retiring to Hollywood, Florida.

The two locked arms under the Twin Spires as the best of friends. They were no longer the bitter rivals of the finish that will live forever, proving the traditions of the track live on far past the finish line.

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