LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Early indications are that the rainy weather and less than sunny economy have combined to drive down turnout and enthusiasm for much of the week leading up to the 135th Run For The Roses.
Mike Sprowl surveyed the placid lunchtime scene in downtown Louisville just two days before the Kentucky Derby.
Perhaps the threat of rain held down the turnout, he ventured. "Or it could be the economy," the longtime Louisville resident added.
For many years, Derby Week has provided a jolt for Louisville's economy as celebrities and ordinary fans alike overrun hotels, restaurants and shops.
In boom years, the bonanza amounts to nearly $120 million for area businesses, according to Jim Wood, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
This year, the recession has reined in some of the usual spending spree for an event that not only kicks off horse racing's Triple Crown season but amounts to a giant party featuring mint juleps and brightly plumed hats.