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Derby Weekend

I know, I know, it’s me again. I’m sure you would all prefer to see Jimmy’s smiling face here, talking about what’s happening worldwide and at home. Unfortunately, he is feeling under the weather so you are stuck with me again.

I’m not going to get into all that is going on in the world, but I am going to talk about something that is happening this weekend that will be celebrated across the country — the Kentucky Derby!

Kentucky Derby Day is almost upon us. The “Running of the Roses,” or “The Run for the Roses,” as the Kentucky Derby is called, is America’s premier horse racing event. Steeped in tradition, the Derby is the first step in the Triple Crown of horse racing. It is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Approximately 155,000 people attend this all-day event each year, culminating in a roughly two-minute race.

The Kentucky Derby runs on a 1 1/4-mile, 10-furlong dirt track. The race winner receives a garland of roses and a $2 million purse. The winner has also reached the first step in winning the Triple Crown. The winning horse competes against other horses to hopefully win the Preakness Stakes and, finally, the Belmont Stakes.

Twenty horses compete in the Kentucky Derby. Typically, far fewer horses race in any other horse racing event. To qualify for the Derby, the 3-year-old thoroughbred horses must travel the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” a series of 35 horse races at tracks in the U.S. and worldwide. Points are awarded, and the top 20 horses proceed to the Kentucky Derby.

The race lasts about 2 minutes. All-day activities and celebrations precede it. The excitement increases in intensity leading up to the opening of the gates, and the “Run for the Roses” begins.

Tradition abounds at the Kentucky Derby. People come dressed to the nines, and ladies wear extravagant hats and participate in a Hat Parade. Mint Juleps are the traditional drink consumed in huge quantities, approximately 120,000 during this two-day event.
Triple Crown Winners

The Kentucky Derby is the premiere event in the quest for the Triple Crown. If you don’t win this race, you can’t win the Triple Crown. All of the other horses are “Also rans.” There are no second chances. With that said, all of the other horses and their owners strive to upset the Kentucky Derby winner.

Winning the Triple Crown is very difficult. Only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown. In 1978, Affirmed became just the 11th horse to win all three races. It was 37 long years before American Pharaoh accomplished the feat. The latest Triple Crown winner is Justify, in 2018.

Kentucky Derby Trivia
– The Kentucky Derby is the longest continually running sporting event in the United States.
– The race is sometimes called “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
– To win the Triple Crown, a horse needs to win the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and the Preakness.
– In 1896, roses were first given to the winner. Jockey Ben Brush received white and pink roses.
– In 1904, red roses became the official color.
– As the horses step onto the track for the post-derby parade, the band plays “My Old Kentucky Home. This tradition began around 1921.
– Mint Juleps are the official drink of the race.
– Approximately 120,000 Mint Juleps are served during the two-day event. 60,000 pounds of ice are used.

Now, let’s talk about those Mint Juleps in a little more depth.

If you know me, you know that I do love good bourbon, and this classic cocktail is *chef’s kiss*. They are also super easy to make and only need three ingredients. So, let’s get to how to make one.

First up, you need to make some simple syrup. Yes, you can buy it, but it’s better to make it at home; it costs much less and can be done in less than 10 minutes. Combine one cup of sugar and one cup of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat; boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

Once that’s cooled, we can build our cocktail.

Start by placing 4 or 5 mint leaves and 1/2-1oz. of simple syrup in the bottom of your glass and muddle them together (which is just a fancy term for smashing them around).

Then, fill your glass with ice (crushed is preferred).

Then add 2 oz. of your favorite bourbon. Bulleit is a great option for every day, but there are plenty of fancier and more expensive options available.

Then just give it a little stir and add an extra mint leaf for garnish.

That’s it. Easy Peasy!

I hope y’all enjoy your Derby weekend, and if you are celebrating and partaking in a Julep or two, please drink responsibly.