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Derby Day in Hot Springs brings crowds

Saturday was Derby Day at Oaklawn, wrapping up the horse racing season at the track in Hot Springs. Tens of thousands of people crowd into the Spa City each year for this big day, which not only provides fun and entertainment, but also an economic boost for Arkansas.
Saturday was Derby Day at Oaklawn, wrapping up the horse racing season at the track in Hot Springs. Tens of thousands of people crowd into the Spa City each year for this big day, which not only provides fun and entertainment, but also a pretty nice economic boost for Arkansas. Horse race fans showed up in big numbers once again.

"It's the largest race with the best known horses," says Bruce Emery with Oaklawn.

The thoroughbreds know just why they're here. They've got a job to do and the fans are waiting.

"All over the country, all over the world, every state in the union comes to Oaklawn," Emery said.

An exchange group from India brought their cameras and they’re ready for the Racing Festival of the South. “It's good. We are enjoying it and nice weather," said Madhu Sudan.

His group is joined by thousands more excited for the big event.

People made sure they had a good time, placing their bets and taking their minds off of the ‘recession’ that so often makes the news.

"All we can say is were racing and that's the ‘R’ word for today day,” Emery said with a laugh.

Business is booming, especially at the Longshot Saloon. "Been a great day," said employee Carol Quinn. Employees are serving up cheer for fans who are always sure to show up.

"Derby Day is always the same. Were always really busy and everyone always has a good time. I'll be here probably till midnight," Quinn said.

The party is still going, even when the last horse makes it through the finish line.

"It could set a record today. It's a big day," Emery said.

The highest Derby Day attendance on record happened in 2006. 72,484 people showed up.
That year, Arkansas received over 3 million dollars in taxes from racing. In 2007, it brought an extra 2 million.
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