The Kentucky Derby (The Run of the Roses)
The Kentucky Derby is often referred to as the Run of the Roses. This is because the winning horse will receive a garland of roses to symbolise the ‘struggle and heart’ necessary to win this race. The first rose garland was given in 1896 when Ben Brush received a rose floral arrangement of pink and white roses, and in 1904, the red rose became the official flower for the Kentucky Derby. The fabulous rose garland we know today was awarded to Borgoo King on the 58th running of the Derby. A garland with more than 400 red roses is sewn every year in a green sating backing with the Commonwealth seal at one end and the Twin Spires and the current race’s renewal number at the other. The “crown” of roses, green fern and ribbon are decorated to every garland. The “crown” symbolizes the struggle and heart to reach the Derby Winner’s Circle, a single rose pointing up in the heart of the garland.
Kentucky Derby cocktail: Mint Juleps add a touch of sophistication
The Kentucky Derby doesn’t just have an official flower – it also has an official cocktail, the Mint Julep. The Mint Julep is a popular southern cocktail and is made with Bourbon, mint, sugar and water and usually served in a silver or a pewter cup. Kentucky is home to almost 95% of the world’s Bourbon production, so it’s not surprising that in 1938 it became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
The Old Forester Mint Julep Recipe
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 8-10 Sprigs of fresh mint
- Crushed ice
- Old Forester Straight Bourbon Whisky (or your favourite bourbon)
- Silver Julep Cups
- Make a mint syrup by boiling the sugar and water together. Cool and place in a covered container with 6-8 springs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.
- Fill a Julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup with 60ml Old Forester straight bourbon whisky. Rapidly stir & garnish with fresh mint.
Kentucky Derby Hats
As many racegoers and followers will know, your race outfit is almost as important as the horses running in the race. The Kentucky Derby is particularly famous for its over-the-top hats, which first made their appearance in 1875. During this time, the racetrack had a reputation for being ‘immoral’ and in order to attract a more ‘high society’ crowd, the founder Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr, invited the high society women to a ‘proper’ picnic at the racetrack. The Southern belles obliged and their fancy headgear became a tradition at the race – and has now been associated with bringing good luck to the participants – from the horses to the owners and those betting on the race!
Who may enter the Kentucky Derby race?
Aside from those watching the race, the most famous attendees are of course the horses themselves. The Kentucky Derby is only open to three-year-old thoroughbreds, so all the horses in the 2019 Kentucky Derby will have been foaled in 2016. The field is limited to only 20 horses, who will have qualified in the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of designated races that were first introduced in 2013. If no injuries take place prior to the race, the horse with the most qualifying points will be Tacitus with 150 qualifying points, trained by William I. Mott and ridden by Jose Ortiz.