Derby infield cleanup: A Run for the Noses and Hoses

Published: May. 4, 2014 at 9:16 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2014 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The day after Derby isn't about roses. Instead, it's about hoses and noses.

"Whoa, this stuff stinks," Atherton High School football coach Kenny Walker heard time and again Sunday morning.

Walker was among several dozen coaches representing Kentuckiana high school teams, whom Churchill Downs hired to clear the Derby debris. After a crowd only a few hundred shy of breaking the attendance record, more than 40 tons of trash were left behind.

"It's a really dirty job," said Riley Trexler, a senior on Atherton's track team. Her advice, on this, her third Derby cleanup patrol: "Don't wear anything nice, and it's long."

The trash that a crowd of 164,906 leaves "tells you a lot about them and the visitors that come to Louisville," Walker said. "We found driver's licenses. We've found credit cards ."

"Probably a little bit of vomit too," Trexler said.  "And a lot of bottles."

Ah, the bottles.

"There's a lot of beer out here, I don't know," said Bullitt East High School tight end Trent Meredith, as a gazed upon a sea of crushed aluminum bearing labels for Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and Miller Lite. "And it was like $8 a beer."

Meredith won't even bother with the math. His morning has been about exercising "seniority."

"As a freshman, we have to clean everything," he explained. "As a Senior—I've been walking around—picking up the big stuff."

What he bags, the underclassmen drag—into piles waiting to be loaded into refuse trucks. Job number one for the coaches themselves? "Just get 'em (team members) in line and keep 'em moving forward," Walker said.

Two and a half hours into it, the treasures are few. No engagement rings. No Rolex watches. Then again, Team Clean measures rewards a bit differently.

"All that we earn goes toward the purchase of equipment and things that we need for that season," Walker said.

"We get money for our track meet," Trexler said.

"The new sweat suit outfits and all that we've got, it's real nice stuff," Meredith added.

Then, there is the bigger picture. For, without them, how long would the Downs be down?

"You look through here it's all white and what not—then you know after we go through here it's all grass, "Meredith said.

All, in less than a day.

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