Bawdy rat races return to Northern Kentucky

Posted at 10:24 AM, May 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-06 10:35:54-04

COVINGTON, Ky. -- If you want to get a sense for the Ludlow Derby, take the spirit of Churchill Downs' infield. And add rats.

In other words, it's bawdy, loud and a little bit weird.

Spectators cheer on the rats. (Photo by Matt Citak | WCPO)

Friday was the 40th year for the running of the rats. The event began in a basement in Ludlow, Kentucky. Now it's held at the Covington Turner Society. The derby is the organization's biggest fundraiser each year, benefiting youth basketball leagues.

Thoroughbred names can be strange -- Asmokeafterdinner, anyone? -- but the rats' names are too explicit to publish here. They chase the cheese in a track featuring several Ludlow, Kentucky landmarks.

"It's not like a horse race, because you have no idea what's going to happen," track announcer Bill Bieger said.

Rats race in the 40th annual Ludlow Derby. (Photo by Matt Citak | WCPO)

The race time varies. Sometimes the winning rat finds the cheese in 30 seconds; other times, it might take as long as 6 minutes. Spectators can place bets, just like at Churchill Downs.

"As you're watching your mouse through the night, it gets really loud in here," Bieger said.

The feature race comes at the end of the night, with winner going onto a "Wall of Shame." Last year's champ was Exterminator Terminator, owned by Big Red and the **** Stormers.

If you want to know more about the NSFW theme, you can visit the derby's Facebook Page. Just don't say we didn't warn you.