And if you thought Kentucky Derby Day means watching 2 minutes of horse racing, you’d be right—but only partially so.
If you’re a horse, you can’t just wake up one morning and decide you want to be a contender. You have to qualify by earning points in a series of 35 races. The top 20 point earners get to compete in The Derby and run for the roses (roses first appeared at the Kentucky Derby in 1896).
If you’re planning a Kentucky Derby Party (it’s a little late at this point, but it’s good advice for next year), be sure your venue has more than the traditional party allotment of square footage per person. This is because hats are a big thing on Derby Day. And by “big thing” I mean important to the event as well as brim size. Because Kentucky Derby Hats are BIG. Some are even bigger than the jockeys. All the jockeys put together. Side Note: Horses are not required to wear big hats.
For those heading down to Louisville for the races, there is a highly civilized schedule (and by “highly civilized” I mean mint juleps are available from 8am to 7pm).
This is how the official Kentucky Derby site says to make mint juleps. (Check your license for age appropriateness, please.)
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon
Silver Julep Cups
Since the recipe takes 24+ hours, you’re out of luck if you didn’t start yesterday.
You can go out to the infield to see what’s happening inside the track (anytime today), you can watch the Military Armed Forces swearing in ceremony (2:15), or you could go crazy and watch one of the 13 horse races that will be running.
Events run all day, but things get serious around 5pm when Josh Groban sings the National Anthem. Following this seriousness, the Derby is trying to set a Guiness World Record by having “The World’s Largest Champagne Toast”. Not sure how that relates, but what the heck.
Then the horses parade out (it’s now probably about 5:55) to lots of commentary and last minute betting. At 6:15 comes the Rider’s Up call.
At 6:20pm, everyone becomes instantly sober for the most important moment of the day—the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” Did you notice how much closer to race time this song is compared to the Anthem? There is room for much commentary here, but I’m skipping all that today.
When was the last time you thought about zebras? (Not the referee kind, the related-to-horses kind.) I’m guessing not recently. Zebras are good creatures. (Zebra print is also a great trend, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.)
So, being the kind of mother I am, I thought I’d tell you a little about zebras.
Zebras don’t make good house pets.
You might think they’d be handy to keep in your room as a friend, but you’d be wrong. Zebras are not tiny animals. They don’t eat tiny amounts. Hence, the other end of the digestive process is neither petite nor perfumed.
Zebras are highly social.
They hang out in groups, like fraternity members only there are more of them. Like fraternity members, they will only go to sleep if there are friends nearby to set up an alarm if a predator is close. Also like fraternity members, they prefer to graze together. No word on whether they like fart jokes, but I’m sure they appreciate a good chemistry joke once in a while.
Zebra stripes are unique.
Zebra stripes (like human fingerprints) are unique to each individual animal. Zebra watchers often identify zebras by the stripes on their tushies. While zebra stripes might to make a person wearing them stand out at a cocktail party, when in a massive herd zebras’ stripes and coloring makes it difficult for lions (and other predators) to tell where one zebra ends and another begins.
Zebras are family-oriented.
Just not your family (because you’re not a zebra). Zebra mamas are very caring and protective of their foals and are known to check on them well after they’ve graduated from college. Zebra kids find this kind and reassuring and do not fuss at their loving parents.
Zebras are zippy.
Zebras can run over 40 miles per hour. They also have excellent stamina and the ability to cut across the field. They are often recruited for football teams.
Zebras are communicative.
They get their point across by sniffing, balking, braying, barking, snorting, changing the position of their tail and ears, and rolling their eyes at their parents.
Zebras are brave.
The head of the herd generally stays at the back to defend against predators. If a zebra is injured, the rest of the herd will circle around it, dancing the hora to keep away the predator and give the injured animal time to rest and recuperate. While there are several high schools with the zebra as their mascot, I am not aware of any zebra college mascots.