|Photo: Churchill Downs
Then there's that trophy. Made of solid 14-karat gold, with an 18-karat gold horse and rider atop and set upon a jade base, the trophy has been awarded annually since 1924 to the owner of the winning horse. While the horse and rider are cast from molds, the rest of the trophy is handcrafted during a process that takes hundreds of hours.
The Early Times Mint Julep Recipe
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 cups water
* Sprigs of fresh mint
* Crushed ice
* Early Times Kentucky Whisky
* Silver Julep Cups
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 Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
|Lady Diane Hats
But while the hats, the music, and the lovely refreshments are important parts of Derby tradition, it's the horses that hold center stage. Beautiful, disciplined, finely-tuned three-year-old athletes at the top of their game, they command the attention of every person there from their first step onto the track .
The race they will run is 1-1/4 miles and you better not blink or you'll miss it. The record for the fastest Derby time has stood since 1973 when the legendary Triple Crown winner, Secretariat ran it in 1 minute 59-2/5 seconds. He was an amazing horse! The Triple Crown, for you non-horse people, is awarded to a horse who wins the three premier horse races in the United States - The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes - in the same year. It's only been done eleven times since 1919 and hasn't been accomplished since Affirmed won it in 1978.
Twenty horses will take to the track today to race for the first jewel in the Triple Crown. Will you be watching? Have you picked a favorite? I have a friend who knows all the stats on each horse and jockey and uses a scientific method (that leaves me totally confused) to select his favorites. Another friend chooses her favorites based on the horse's name. Still another picks her favorite based on the color of the jockey's silks. Me? I use a combination of the three. It's worked...once or twice...but I have fun doing it and that's really all that matters to me. Here are my favorite and long shot picks for this year's Derby.
|AP - Lookin At Lucky
Lookin At Lucky: I like his name and his trainer, Bob Baffert and his odds are great at 3-1.
|Photo Credit: Adam Coglianese
Paddy O'Prado: How can I not love a horse with an Irish name and owned by Donegal Racing? He's a long shot at 20-1 but he's been running really fast and I like his jockey, Kent Desormeaux. I wouldn't count him out.
Okay, now it's your turn. Will you be watching today's Derby? Have you ever attended the Derby in person or been to a Derby party? Tried your hand at sipping (or making) a Mint Julep? Who's your favorite to win today's race? If you live outside the U.S., tell us about the premier horse races in your country!
One lucky commenter, randomly selected, will receive a signed set of Elizabeth Bevarly's Derby Trilogy, stories set in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky - site of the Kentucky Derby. The books in the trilogy are Fast & Loose, Neck & Neck and Ready & Willing. Good luck!