This coming Saturday May 5th is the 138th KY Derby here in KY. Here is a little info about the Garland that the Winners horse gets to wear, Some Derby Attire, and the famous Mint Julep drink.
Garland of Roses
The roses were first established as part of the Derby celebration when they were presented to all the ladies attending a fashionable Louisville Derby party. The roses were such a sensation, that the president of Churchill Downs, Col. Lewis Clark, adopted the rose as the race's official flower. The rose garland now synonymous with the Kentucky Derby first appeared in the 1896 when the winner, Ben Brush, received a floral arrangement of white and pink roses.
In 1904 the red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. The tradition was strengthened when, in 1925, New York sports columnist Bill Corum, later the president of Churchill Downs, dubbed the Kentucky Derby the "Run for the Roses." The garland as it exists today was first introduced in 1932 for the 58th running won by Burgoo King.
Each year, a garland of more than 400 red roses is sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth on one end and the Twin Spires and number of the race’s current renewal on the other. Each garland is also adorned with a "crown" of roses, green fern and ribbon. The "crown," a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to reach the Derby Winner’s Circle.
Each year the Governor of Kentucky and other dignitaries also present the winning jockey with a bouquet of 60 long stemmed roses wrapped in 10 yards of ribbon.
For several years, owners of the Derby winner also received a silk replica of the garland, but since Grindstone's 1996 victory, the actual garland has made the trip to Danville, Ky., to be freeze-dried. Some owners have even gone as far as to have a flower dipped in silver. A silver-dipped flower from the garland of Gato del Sol, the 1982 winner, is on display in the Kentucky Derby Museum.
The Kroger Company has been the official florist of the Kentucky Derby since 1987. After taking over the duties from the Kingsley Walker florist, Kroger began constructing the prestigious garland in one of its local stores for the public to view on Derby Eve.
The preservation of the garland and crowds of spectators watching its construction are a testament to the prestige and mystique of the garland of roses.
Dress to Impress
One of the truly unique characteristics of the Kentucky Derby, and its sister event, the Kentucky Oaks, is that they are sports parties that showcase the finest in spring fashions. Both female and male attendees pull out all of the stops when selecting their Kentucky Derby and Oaks apparel.There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to Derby dressing in part because what you wear has much to do with where you plan to spend the day. In the reserved seating areas (grandstand, clubhouse, suites and corporate hospitality areas), ladies typically wear pastel-colored suits, frilly dresses or bold separates that coordinate with their Derby headwear and accessories.
While high heels are certainly part of the total Derby ensemble, experienced Derby divas also pack a pair of fashionable yet comfortable flats or flip flops to wear home. Who says the high price of fashion has to include blisters?
Not to be out done by their dates, gentlemen leave their pinstripes at home and instead opt for seersucker suits, light-colored sport coats and the occasional madras plaid jacket. Guys, when in doubt, a navy sports coat with pressed khakis or dress slacks, a light-colored shirt and flashy tie (long or bow) is perfectly acceptable!
The Kentucky Derby infield comes with its own agenda and dress code. Unbridled fun and frivolity is the focus of infield fans and with that attitude comes the need to be practical in all apparel choices. Infielders typically sport jeans or shorts, T-shirts, tanks or polo shirts, sneakers or comfortable sandals and other varieties of durable (and washable) attire. Some fans show up centerfield in more elaborate costumes, including fantastic get ups meant to draw attention. Whether you want to be noticed – or just blend into the crowd -- the key is comfort. Be sure to pack a rain jacket along with your cooler, chair, blanket or tarp. If it rains you’ll be glad you did (no umbrellas allowed!) And don’t forget the one thing ALL infielders should wear to the Derby regardless of the weather – a good layer of sunscreen!
vineyard vines is the Official Style of the Kentucky Derby.
The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Early Times Kentucky Whisky has been privileged and honored to be a part of that tradition. The Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail has been "The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby" for more than 18 years.
Each year, almost 120,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.
The Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail is a staple at the track the rest of the year as well. You can also find the Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail at your local retailer. The commemorative bottles have become collectors’ items for many, capturing the mood and spirit of the famous Churchill Downs track and Kentucky Derby race. If the Early Times Ready-to-Serve Cocktail is not available from your local retailer, you can make your own with this time-honored recipe:
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.
The best times are enjoyed responsibly.
Early Times Distillery Co., Kentucky Whisky. 40 percent Alc. By Volume. Louisville, KY 2006.