“We all won by being here,” was the fundamental sentiment expressed by most people who attended the Marco Island-based Upon a Star Foundation’s second annual Talk Derby to Me benefit party on Saturday at Guy Harvey’s Island Grill at The Esplanade. The charitable event, held from 4 to 7 p.m. was again hosted by Guy Harvey’s, which also donated the food enjoyed by the Foundation’s supporters who each donated $50 for general admission to the party.
Rosa Scola, Upon a Star Foundation’s treasurer, said, “The Talk Derby to Me VIP lounge was the Island Grill’s Upstairs Bar and only the “Horse Owners” were allowed access — they paid $500 for a horse which was randomly chosen at the event.”
Scola noted there were prizes were awarded for Win (first place —Two by Faux), Place (second place —Wayne and Liz Henuset), and Show (third place — Will & Judy Dempsey).
Island Grill Executive Chef Sammy Hapstak kept the Kentucky Derby Buffet platters filled with the famous Louisville Hot Brown, served with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, along with honey barbecue wings, bacon-wrapped scallops with teriyaki glaze, crispy pot stickers with plum sauce, and chocolate-covered strawberries and bread pudding with bourbon crème Anglaise for dessert. Did I mention each supporter was entitled to a complimentary mint julep to wash it all down?
That having been said, on to the donation windows, actually a long table covered with big sheet of paper divided into squares, with Jim Ragusa collecting the donations (ahem, “bets”) and documenting the information in the proper donation windows similar to 50/50 windows . Ragusa noted there were four different pots — three for the $25 donation winners and one for the $50 donation winner.
Scola explained that there were 20 horses in Saturday’s Run for the Roses, and people could donate $25 or $50 and be in the running with a horse that was randomly chosen after the donation was made.
“In the $25 window, the winning pot was $500 — 20 horses at $25 — the winner received 50 percent and the Upon a Star Foundation received 50 percent, so the winner in the $25 window won $250. The winner in the $50 window won $500,” she added.
Master of ceremonies Greg West commanded the stage and provided pre and post Derby commentary to Derby party-goers who collectively cheered and whistled as they watched Big Brown gallop across the finish line to win the 134th Kentucky Derby. Festive feelings momentarily turned somber when it was reported second place filly Eight Belles broke both front ankles galloping out a quarter mile past the finish line and had to be euthanized.
The Talk Derby winners’ names were announced shortly after the official announcement was made during the post-race coverage seen and heard on the Island Grill’s huge TV screen: Anne Maschok won the $500 pot; while Morgan Gang, Ron Zuban and Mercedes Busto each won a $250 pot.
Speaking of winning, Emcee West not only created excitement but also generated spirited bidding for prizes donated by Marco Island’s business community, and you all know how generous those public-minded people can be. Among the bidding highlights and Greg West’s fines auctioneering skills — the Dinner for Eight Cooked by restaurateur Tony Raimone prize package that Michelle Jordan and Dana Flowers won with a $800 bid, and then donated it back to be won by Bob Stoico’s $2,000 bid.