Talk Derby to Me

All things Kentucky Derby.  I have never been, but Mer and I have made a pact to go in the next few years.  I know a couple of other horse owners who may want to join us!  Make that next year!

Derby Facts



Derby 101

Planning your own Derby soire

You don’t have to make the trip to Churchill Downs or even Louisville to experience the Kentucky Derby. Plan your own Derby party with these suggestions for food, cocktails, decorations, and games.

There are a few essentials you must serve at your Derby party. Not only are these recipes traditional fare for the Derby, but they are delicious too!

  • Kentucky Hot Browns
  • Bourbon-Marinated Pork Tenderloin
  • Country Ham and Biscuits
  • Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
  • Bourbon Balls

The mint julep is the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby. Serve it in a silver julep cup for a traditional presentation. Here are some other race-day cocktails you should try.

  • Classic Mint Julep
  • Black-eyed Susan Cocktail
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Bourbon Smash
  • Whiskey Sours
  • Bourbon Cider Sour  


Take your cue from the Kentucky Derby’s nickname, the Run for the Roses, and decorate with the classic flower. Rose and boxwood topiaries make great centerpieces or small tabletop decorations. You can either buy topiary forms and simply place them in a suitable container, or you can make one yourself with plastic foam balls and wooden dowels. Once you have bought or made the form, simply stick pieces of boxwood into the plastic foam. You can either make a tight arrangement by cutting the boxwood pieces the same length and placing them close together, or you can vary the length of the boxwood pieces for a looser and more natural arrangement. Then add red roses into the plastic foam for a pop of color and a Derby accent.


Fill traditional silver julep cups with red roses for a small-scale arrangement.

Use brightly colored tablecloths and napkins as a nod to the jockeys’ colorful uniforms, called silks.

The official Kentucky Derby Web site allows party planners to create and send evites.

You can also do it the old-fashioned way and send invitations by mail. Find a variety of Derby-inspired choices at Polka Dot Design. Our favorites: the Derby Clothing invitation and the Horse Race invitation, both by Odd Balls.

Order official Kentucky Derby Programs so your guests really feel like they’re at the races.

The actual race only takes two minutes, so plan a few Derby-inspired games to extend your party and keep your guests entertained before and after the race.

  • Hat Contest
    Ask your guests to wear hats to your party and encourage creativity by offering a prize for best hat. Award the winner with a homemade Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie or a bottle of bourbon so they can take home a little taste of the Kentucky Derby.
  • Game of Luck
    Let each guest draw a horse’s name out of a hat to cheer for during the race. The guest paired with the winning horse wins a prize. Up the ante by making the prize a Jockey Silks Scarf for women or the Off to the Races Bow Tie for men from Vineyard Vines, The Official Style of the Kentucky Derby.
  • For the Kids
    Set up a game of horseshoes in the yard, or have the kids bring their own stick horses for their very own Run for the Roses.

It just wouldn’t be right to wear jeans and a T-shirt to a Kentucky Derby party, unless you were going for the relaxed, tailgating atmosphere of the infield. Follow our Head-to-Toe Kentucky Derby Fashion Guide to dress the part.

(Source:  Southern Living)

The Hats

What sets the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks apart from other sports and entertainment events? It’s the hats!

Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is much of what makes “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” one of the greatest people-watching events in the world!

The long-established fashion was started with Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.’s vision for the Derby as an event that the high-class would attend, similar to European-style racing events, which mandated full morning dress for men and women. For the first running of the Kentucky Derby, he used high-class women to recruit his target clientele to attend the race. The event quickly became just as much about the fashion as the racing. Going to a horse racing event became an opportunity to show off the latest in spring fashion and women were known to coordinate their hats, dresses, bags, shoes, and even parasols.

The extravagant hats that have become associated with the Kentucky Derby did not really come around until the 1960s, when social fashion norms loosened up and the presence of television gave women a reason to stand out. The hats became larger, brighter, and more extravagant.

Hats at the Kentucky Derby have become even more popular after the royal wedding in 2011, an event that showcased many elaborate hats and fascinators.

Derby Lingo

Wagering Party Games

What’s a party without games?  And what’s a Derby party without wagering games? No need to worry about what games to play at your Derby party, the Derby Way has you covered.

With our games you don’t need to know a thing about betting. Nor do you have to be a one percenter because you can always play with pennies or m&m’s instead of dollars. That might come in handy because you can play our games for all 14 races on Derby Day – not just the Derby.

First of all, go to to get the names of the horses running in the Derby and in the 11 undercard races that take place before the Derby.

The Derby Hat Draw

  • Ask each guest to contribute a sum of money (or m&ms or anything else you like) to a pool – or just spring for the      pool yourself.
  • Put the names of all the Derby horses for a particular race in a hat.
  • Allow your guests to draw the name of a horse out of the hat.
  • Whoever has the name of the horse who wins the race wins the pool.

 Horse Auction Action

  • Hold a Thoroughbred auction and auction off each horse in the race
  • The favorite will go for a higher price than the longshot
  • Add the auction sums to a pool
  • Whoever purchased the winning horse at auction wins the pool

Lucky Longshots

  • Bet which horse will finish last, instead of first
  • Apply the “last place wins” rule to the above games

Vegas at the Derby

Wager on whether the following Derby Day traditions will go over or under the time allotted below.

  • 2:15 How long it will take Lady Antebellum to sing the national anthem
  •  :90 How long it will take the crowd to sing My Old Kentucky Home
  • 2:00 The time length of the race


Need more info on Derby Parties or where to watch the undercard races? Visit for all the information to plan your party.

If you can read the tiny print…you can save this and print this out.

Just a big of Recaping

My parting shot… If you think the Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, then you haven’t seen the 2016 World Series, Game 7… I mean, OMG. 🙂

Today is opening day at Arlington Race Track.  I cannot wait!!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!



Source:  Southern Living



  1. Really enjoyed this one, TOB . . . very long but chock-full of ‘strange facts and useless information’ that you’ll never need unless you’re a lover of trivia (which I am!) So, THANKS, for a great read! However, there appears to be a confusing ‘fact’ . . . early on, 400 roses are placed around the horse. Late it’s noted that 564 roses are used. How will I ever win the Lexus with competing info?!?!? 🙂

    • You are so, so right! I believe you are the only one who reads this thoroughly. Stay tuned for the correct answer. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the Lexus!

      • Perhaps we should truck to the Derby and count those roses together!

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