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A Pre-Derby Day Party? You Bet

April 13, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD

About 75 guests prepared to spend a day at the races last week when the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach held a preview party for its 11th Annual Kentucky Derby Day.

The Kentucky Colonel Party, a cocktail reception that included a little wagering in the grand derby tradition, helped drum up support for Derby Day, to be held at the club May 1. Proceeds will benefit CHOC Padrinos, a support group of Children's Hospital of Orange County.

At the Starting Gate

To get guests in the mood for the derby, the club imported a half-dozen miniature horses and set them on the club lawn overlooking the bay.

"They won't have to cut the grass here," said guest Larry Rosenbloom as he watched the ponies placidly nibbling away on the lawn.

Guests later lined up at a tote window and put play money down on big horses, then watched a film of an actual horse race and cheered their favorites.

Dave Ringler, a Newport Beach resident who owns a thoroughbred farm in Lexington, Ky., offered bits of derby lore and a few betting tips. Among his suggestions:

* "Don't bet the favorite--the favorite hasn't won since 1979."

* "Don't bet a gelding. Only seven of the 118 geldings that have run have won, the last in 1929."

* "Fillies have only won three times."

The party was also an occasion to salute two "colonels." Lee Adair, derby committee member, and Don Bailey, founder of Padrinos, have been named members of the Kentucky Colonel Society, an honor bestowed by the governor of Kentucky on those who contribute generously to their communities. With his white hair and beard, Adair "looks the part," joked Beverly Ray, club owner.

Off and Running

Come Derby Day, the club will be transformed into a small version of Churchill Downs. Films of actual horse races will play throughout the day, and guests will wager on the ponies with play money that can later be turned into tickets for prizes. The actual the Kentucky Derby will be broadcast on a giant screen.

The club will serve a Southern-style buffet brunch and be decked out in spring flowers, balloons and floating pool displays. About 400 people are expected to attend.

"This started out as just a party for our members," said Mike Stanko, derby co-chairman and the club's general manager. "Then we thought if we could do this and raise money for children, it would be terrific."

Each year the club selects an Orange County children's charity to benefit. This is the second year that proceeds have gone to Padrinos, which will use the estimated $75,000 to buy equipment for CHOC.

"Padrinos is Spanish for godfathers. We're a men's support group for the hospital," said Doug Pichard, derby co-chairman and Padrinos board member. "All of our events are sports-related, so Derby Day is the perfect event for us."

Tickets for Derby Day are $50 per person and may be purchased at the Balboa Bay Club or Padrinos Office at Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange. For more information, call Jim West at the club (645-5000, Ext. 795) or Helen Wardner at CHOC (532-6875).

Other guests were Bob Bucci, Don Christy, Cerise Feeley, Peggy Goldwater Clay, Robert and Cindy Harold, Henry Hitchcock (derby announcer), Tamara Merrill, Dan O'Connor, Jim West and Dave Wooten.

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