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It seems the South is a hot trend right now. Of course, we are already well aware just how great the South is. Frankly, we know our traditions, culture, and ways of life are no trends at all.
Alas, said trend of being fascinated with how we Southerners have been “conducting business” since Moby Dick was a minnow, the Kentucky Derby has been the talk of the town, even down here in Texas.
I was invited to a handful of Kentucky Derby parties that were being hosted in the Lone Star state. I was ready to resign to a day of explaining how to properly wear a hat; how to make the perfect simple syrup; and how to box a trifecta at the betting window. I was prepared to enjoy one of the South’s greatest traditions with my Texas friends.
And then it happened. I started to receive real invitations to real Derby events being held in the real Kentucky. One mention of a historical plantation, box seats, a new dress, and a brunch consisting of tenderloin, cheese grits, and Mint Juleps served in polished silver… well… the light went on… this Kentucky belle just couldn’t resist the trip home. Again.
Why I thought I would sit out this year’s run for the roses beats the heck out of me. Some people have family reunions or family vacations— we have family days at the track– Churchill Downs to be exact— and there is no family better than the one you’re with on Derby day.
If you’re heading to the legendary Churchill Downs or just to your neighbor’s back yard keep these tidbits in mind:
Belles, make sure you have your hat and dress ready! You’ll want to wear a brightly colored dress with a hat and shoes that compliment. Your hat should be worn low causing you to raise your chin to see those around you.
Gents, make sure your khaki or seersucker suit is pressed and ready to go with your pastel bow tie, white buck shoes, pocket square and cigar.
Betting. Always bring cash for betting. It doesn’t matter if you study the odds, trainer, and winnings of a horse or if you simply like the name or the color of the jockey’s silks. Just be sure you participate in the fun!
Note, Win= 1st place, Place= 2nd place, and Show=3rd place. Gridiron Belle inside tip: I always bet “$2 across the board.” This means that the horse I choose can win place or show and I’m still considered a winner. Not a winner of very much, but a winner all the same. I’ll be betting on Hansen this year—the white horse favorite! But I always bet on two and the second thoroughbred that gets my money is “I’ll have another…” the trainer is staying at my sister’s house!
Mint Juleps. Mint Juleps are the official drink of the KY Derby. These world-renowned beverages are made of crushed ice, smashed mint, simply syrup, and bourbon. You’ll enjoy them over brunch out of polished silver or at the track out of a collectable Derby glass. If you’re in the infield you’re likely having an abbreviated version – just bourbon. Usually without ice. And usually with blurred vision.
It’s natural to want to be Bob Baffert (a famous and successful horse trainer) after a May trip to KY. I leave Churchill Downs every year wanting to give up football and purchase a horse farm. The spirit in KY is just infectious. It’s a beautiful part of the country that celebrates years of hard work while displaying its Southern roots.
If you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list. If you’re going for the first time this year, enjoy it. It only takes one “call to the post” to appreciate what it means to be part of the legendary Kentucky Derby.
Happy Derby Day!
Xs and Os,
For the first time in history both teams from the Bluegrass State, the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, will meet in the Final Four. This basketball match up between the CARDS and the CATS is as heated a rivalry as the football match up between Auburn and Alabama. Perhaps even more. In fact, one writer even calls it “deep fried hell.” as he depicts the history of this rivalry.
Just as nearly every other major sporting event finals this year, the NCAA Final Four is being played in New Orleans. (My sources say the city is currently bidding for the next Olympics and the 2013 Masters… ) In addition to the civil war that will be played on Saturday at 5:09pm CT, let us not forget about a little street that feels like home to every fan hailing from the great Commonwealth, Bourbon Street.
Come Saturday evening, half of the Kentuckians who made the trip south will be weeping after a loss and the other half will be flamboyantly flaunting a victory. Thankfully, both fan bases will find common ground in the Big Easy where the name is all too comforting to a Kentuckian—the street of Bourbon. What basketball divides, bourbon unites. Wait. I actually don’t believe that at all. That’s like saying a slab of ribs from Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham is going to be a nice band-aid post the Iron Bowl. It’s just not going to happen.
What is going to happen is a little bourbon showdown. Yes, I know, every team thinks they rule the roost when it comes to celebrating a win in N’awlins. And I know the locals think they’ve mastered Bourbon Street. But as a belle who was raised on the brown drink in the Bluegrass, let me prepare you for the Commonwealth of Kentucky coming to town. Bourbon may be a street in your city, but we created it in the Commonwealth and y’all a’int seen nothing yet!
Happy NCAA Final Four; go Commonwealth!
Xs and Os,