Skip links

Derby party a smash hit in Oregon District

Derby party a smash hit in Oregon District by Tom Archdeacon for Dayton Daily News

Wednesday night’s “And They’re Off!” Kentucky Derby party at the Color of Energy was a smash hit. It drew a packed house to the Brown Street gallery in the Oregon District.

“I thought it was just a fabulous evening,” said Judge Dan Gehres, who partnered with local artist and Color of Energy owner Mike Elsass to put on the event. “We brought a very diverse group of people downtown on a week night and they made the place rock ‘n’ roll.”

Revelers, many who dressed in the spirit of the occasion — from Greg Lockhart, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District in a white suit that would have made any railbird sharpie proud to women with big spring hats that would fit right in at Churchill Downs for this Saturday’s Running of the Roses — got an equine greeting when they arrived at the event.

Roadhouseblue, a five-year-old rescue thoroughbred with a victory and three in-the-money finishes in a five-race career ended by injury – was stationed out front on Brown Street and drew some of the biggest attention of the night.

The evening also served as a kickoff to a superb horse racing photo exhibit by long-time River Downs race publicist – and Dayton resident – John Engelhardt. The show will remain up through the Triple Crown races.

Celebrated Dayton thoroughbred owner and breeder George Smith – accompanied by his long time partner in the horse business Dr. Wilbur Johnston and former Ohio racing commissioner and Kettering vet Dr. Jim Gable – spoke on the jounery of a foal one day ending up in the race track starting gate.

The Sidebar restaurant, whose patio is behind the gallery, served mint juleps, Kentucky Bourbon, Hot Browns – similar to the beloved Derby staple of fabled Brown Hotel in Louisville — and horse race pie.Personable Ed Meyer, host of the Winning Ponies show, handicapped this year’s Derby field. And Dale Walton and his son Evan provided the evening’s music.

“The whole thing was tremendous, everyone was raving,” said Elsass. “I think we’ve got ourselves another annual event for downtown.”