TILL ROSES AT LAST WEEK'S KENTUCKY DERBY WENT TO A 3-year-old long shot named Sea Hero. But the talk of Louisville wasn't so much about who won but who showed: Hollywood. Dennis Hopper, Dixie Carter and Cybill Shepherd were among the crowd favorites at the 119th annual race at Churchill Downs on May 1. "You're not betting your grocery money out here, so if you win, it's fun, and if you don't, it's okay," said country singer George Strait, who joined retiree George Bush and First Mom Virginia Kelley at the betting window. (No word on whether Bush and Kelley traded tips.)
With such a fast-traveling crowd, there was as much action off the track as on: Racing doyenne Marylou Whitney, widow of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, celebrated with Joan Rivers, Susan Lucci and 250 other high-profile horseplayers at an upscale Derby Eve soiree at Whitney's expansive Lexington farm. In Louisville former Doublemint Twin Tricia Barnstable Brown hosted her fifth annual Diamond Derby, a name-heavy benefit that drew a crowd of 550, raised $75,000 for the American Diabetes Association and featured an impromptu concert by Roseanne's John Goodman. But even as Goodman sweated through "Blue Suede Shoes," his mind was clearly on the horses. "I'm going to bet heavily and lose heavily," he said proudly. "It's the American way."
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