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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,
May 13, 2011 CATEGORIES: Kentucky Derby
Tennessee, Mississippie State, South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama- The SEC was well represented at the Pendennis Club of Louisville after the KY Derby.
Imagine–Polished silver filled to the brim with smooth bourbon and crisp mint. Ladies and gents dressed to the nines. Thoroughbreds racing to the finish line. Twinspires of Churchill Downs setting the background to the greatest day in May— you’re not dreaming, that’s a little thing called the Kentucky Derby.
This year’s 137th run for the roses was the largest crowd in Kentucky Derby history. The grandstand, clubhouse and infield were all overflowing with horse fans. Or simply fans of the South’s greatest party and the fastest two minutes in sports.
Hopefully you were able to check this epic event off of your bucket list. If not, they are planning on running it again next year—so go find your inner thoroughbred and race to get your ticket. If you think the Grove is a fancy tailgate, the “tailgating” on Derby day at Churchill Downs will knock the horseshoes right off your feet!