Guard Members Prepare for Kentucky Oaks, Derby Races
By Army Capt. Andi Hahn
Kentucky National Guard
LOUISVILLE, Ky., Apr. 29, 2010 The “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” took five months to plan, and the Kentucky National Guard is no stranger to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks “Run for the Roses.”
Army Spc. John R. Adkins of the Kentucky National Guard interviews Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Jim Bland about their mission during last year’s Kentucky Oaks and Derby horse races. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Hiler
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
For decades, the Kentucky National Guard has assisted Louisville police and other state and local law enforcement agencies during the annual Kentucky Oaks and Derby horse races held at Churchill Downs here. The Oaks race is traditionally run on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, which is held on the first Saturday in May.
“When a big event like Derby exceeds Louisville metro’s ability to respond, they ask for our assistance,” said Army Maj. Lance Grebe, operations officer for the Kentucky National Guard. “We are never out there on our own; our teams are always partnered with a police officer.”
This year, 360 Kentucky Guardsmen from the 198th Military Police Battalion, 41st Civil Support Team, 63rd Aviation Brigade, Recruiting and Retention, and various headquarters offices will provide support to the Louisville police tomorrow for the Oaks race, and on this year’s Derby Day, May 1. This year marks the 136th running of the Derby.
Military police will man traffic-control points and provide infield and gate security at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky National Guard also will contribute soldiers for a winner’s circle security detail, transportation support and a command-and-control presence alongside Louisville police officers.
The Kentucky Guard has worked with local law enforcement and other agencies for numerous training events and real-world incidents such as a winter ice storm and Hurricane Ike. The Kentucky Derby gives Guard members another arena to brush up on their soldier’s skills and provide community outreach.
“It’s important to continue to build a good working relationship with the [police department],” Grebe said. “Our soldiers, especially the MPs, get refresher training out of it. In the past, during state training events or real-world disasters, it’s always been a seamless transition working with the local law officials.”