NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — And they’re off to the races — the races at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, that is!

Our WGNO Good Morning New Orleans features reporter Bill Wood was there Thanksgiving morning, waking up with the horses, jockeys, and Kevin Kilroy, a horse racing analyst. Kilroy is ready for the excitement that’s been a Big Easy tradition for 98 years.

Thousands will flock to the city’s 151-year-old racetrack (one of the oldest in America) in their Kentucky Derby finest for the $175,000 race.

“It’s crazy,” New Orleans native and trainer of racer Caribbean Caper Al Stall Jr. said ahead of the races. “They come out dressed in vintage clothing and homemade hats. To me, that’s a very underreported phenomenon. I think a lot of the service industry people who are off that day have been at the center of it all. They’ve been coming out and pumping big time energy into that day. It’s also a homecoming for locals and horse people who had gone out of town. There are just a lot of factors that come into play to make it a special day.”

The Classic kicks off at 12 p.m. Thursday.