Each year thousands gather for one of the sexiest, sassiest, most stylist sporting events in this country the annual ‘The Run for the Roses’ or better known as The Kentucky Derby. The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration. It is the first leg of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and is followed by the Preakness Stakes then the Belmont Stakes. Ladies many of you have talked to us at Jersey Girl (www.jerseygirlsports.com) about your sports bucket list, well if the Kentucky Derby isn’t on your list, it should be. I have put together the top 10 reasons of why you should travel to Louisville for the ultimate Jersey Girl experience.
Reason 1… Hats! Hats! Hats!
Ok…if for no other reason than to be fashionably late, ladies from far and wide turn in their blackberries and laptops for a weekend of stylish sundresses in the latest in hat wear. From the youngest to the oldest, women plan for months and shop many stores to find the perfect hat. I’ve heard many say the ‘bigger the better’. When a women is choosing her Derby hat, it’s not just any ol’hat. It’s one that reflects her personality, shows who she is, and for one day she can become that southern belle that Gone with the Winds’ Scarlett O’Hara made so popular.
Reason 2…Mint Julep
Now every Jersey Girl loves a good drink, and at the Derby they are lucky enough to have a signature drink. The Mint Julep is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup. The historic drink can be served in an ice-frosted silver julep cup but most Churchill Downs patrons sip theirs from a souvenir glass printed with all previous Derby winners. Each year Tiffany & Co. partners with the Kentucky Derby to create a signature mint julep silver cup, which retails for around $1000.
Reason 3…The History
The history of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs is such a remarkable tale that dates back to the late 1800s making the Derby one of the USA’s oldest thoroughbred horse races, and the oldest, continuous sporting event in the US. From the time the region was settled, the fields of the Bluegrass region were noted for producing superior racehorses. Officially, the racetrack was incorporated as Churchill Downs in 1937. The Kentucky Derby was first run at 1½ miles (2.4 km), but in 1896, the distance was changed to its current 1¼ miles (2 km). On May 17, 1875, in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, a field of 15 three-year-old horses contested the first Derby. Between 1875 and 1902, African-American jockeys won 15 of the 28 running’s of the Kentucky Derby. On May 11, 1892, African-American jockey Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, age 15, became the youngest rider to win the Derby. The 1904 race was won by Elwood, the first Derby starter and winner owned by a woman, Laska Durnell. In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby (of only three in the history of the race).
Reason 4…the Oaks
The Oaks is an event that is strictly for the ladies…literally. The Kentucky Oaks is the sister race for the Kentucky Derby, held the Friday prior to the Derby for the thoroughbred fillies. The winner gets a $500,000 dollar purse and a large garland of lilies, affectionately called the “Lillies for the Fillies” and a silver Kentucky Oaks Trophy is presented to the winner. Throughout its 136-year history, the Kentucky Oaks has collected its own traditions, and like its companion event, the Kentucky Derby, features a namesake race, boasts a special flower, offers an official cocktail (Oaks Lily) and — as of 2009 — has official charity partners.
Reason 5…The Parties
OMG…at every turn, the lights of Louisville are lit for this annual weekend. From social to civic organizations, to sororities and fraternities, to the biggest names in the sports and entertainment, the Derby is all about having a good time and enjoying life. For a list of parties and events, you can visit the Louisville Visitor and Convention website. Trust me there is something for everyone.
Reason 6…Breast Cancer Awareness
In 2009, Churchill Downs initiated a new Oaks tradition by partnering with two charities that work tirelessly to prevent breast cancer in women and men: Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Horses and Hope. This year, Churchill Downs will contribute $1 for every Oaks attendee to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and $1 for every Oaks Lily beverage sold to Horses & Hope. In 2009, Churchill Downs contributed more than $100,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and $30,000 to Horses and Hope. This year The Oaks are proud to offer special co-branded merchandise featuring the official logos of Kentucky Oaks 136 and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Churchill Downs will donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of co-branded products to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Check out all of the fabulous merchandise at www.TheDerbyStore.com, or at Churchill Downs Racetrack on Oaks Day.
Reason 7…The Roses
The Derby is frequently referred to as “The Run for the Roses,” because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year. The tradition originated in 1883 when New York socialite E. Berry Wall presented roses to ladies at a post-Derby party that was attended by Churchill Downs founder and president, Col. M. Lewis Clark. This gesture is believed to have eventually led Clark to the idea of making the rose the race’s official flower. However, it was not until 1896 that any recorded account referred to roses being draped on the Derby winner. The Governor of Kentucky awards the garland and the trophy.
Reason 8… Millionaire’s Row
Now ladies if you are looking for a Millionaire, then you’ve come to the right place. “Millionaire’s Row” refers to the expensive box seats that attract the rich, the famous and the well-connected. Women appear in fine outfits lavishly accessorized with large, elaborate hats. As the horses are paraded before the grandstands, the University of Louisville marching band plays Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home.” Now this is where I want to be!
Reason 9… Ultimate Girls’ Getaway
If you’re looking for the ultimate ladies’ getaway – a place to dress up, cut loose and live large – then you need to check out Louisville Kentucky, the weekend of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby! Next year grab your girlfriends, mom, sisters, cousins and coworkers and plan the ultimate ladies’ getaway at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day. You can make amazing memories at this incredible social event immersed in sisterhood, charity, fashion and celebrity. What other sports and entertainment event promotes PINK as its official color, donates thousands of dollars to charities founded by women, and features fashion contests and celebrity attendees?
Reason 10…Oh Yeah, The Horses
How could I forget about the most important aspect the race? The horses! This year’s thoroughbred contenders list includes horses born and bred for these races. They are beautiful animals and their owners and jockeys take seriously good care of these animals who are the real stars of this sport.
Well…hopefully I have given you 10 fabulous reasons to put the Kentucky Derby on your Bucket List. In the meantime, gather a group of Jersey Girlfriends, a fly hat, and create your own Derby party right in your own living room, and don’t forget the Mint Julep!
Your Jersey Girlfriend,