I knew next to nothing a year ago about the Kentucky Derby. I knew it was in Kentucky, and I may have been able to tell you that it was a horse race, but only after a brief hesitation as I debated in my head between horses and cars.
I still don't know a ton, but here's a few tidbits (Louisville friends, correct me if I'm wrong):
- Derby is always the first Saturday of May.
- It is held at Churchill Downs, near downtown Louisville.
- The day before Derby Day is called "Oaks." The fillies race on "Oaks" day, and the saying of the day is "Lilies for the fillies."
- Oaks day is mostly attended by locals, and has more of a family atmosphere than Derby Day.
- The flower of Derby Day is the red rose. I'm not sure on this one, but from the street boulevards to the cakes at the bakery, I've noticed that the whole city is decorated with horses and red flowers...
- The two airports in town are as busy as can be with charter planes bringing in the rich and famous.
- Several restaurants in town are rented out this evening by groups of celebrities.
- Every hotel in town is completely booked.
- The infield (outfield?) has a reputation for boozing and rowdiness. In short, stay away.
- People bring elaborate picnic meals to Churchill Downs.
- The hats are even more elaborate.
- Traditional Derby foods include strawberries, Mint Juleps, and Derby Pie.
- Summer in Louisville begins on Derby weekend, not Memorial weekend. Derby marks the beginning of summer clothes, white shoes and white purses.
- It's called "the fastest two minutes in sports."
- Derby is anticipated for two weeks prior with hot-air-balloon races, fireworks shows, festivals, and parades.
- Before the big race, everyone sings, "My Old Kentucky Home."
And, by the way, Derby Pie is a chocolate chip pecan pie served warm with sweetened whipped cream. Is your mouth watering?