If you thought today was just going to be Another Saturday you’d be Oh So Wrong.
Think horses, big hats, betting, and mint juleps, and yes, it is Kentucky Derby Day.
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
- Crushed ice
- 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.
And at 6:34, the race begins.
Happy Kentucky Derby Day,