Tomorrow is the first Saturday in May and will be the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby. Billed as the “Most exciting two minutes in sport”, it will capture the attention and wallets of millions. I attended my first Derby in 1960 at the invitation of my future husband. I was a college senior and not very worldly. Oh sure, I’d visited New York, Miami and Cuba. Yes, you could travel to Cuba in those days! And I had even lived in Cleveland for a year, but that didn’t add up to sophistication. I did know that all the women wore hats so I went shopping with some friends and purchased the complete ensemble. I remember the suit and blouse but can’t recall the hat details other than it was white. Little did I know at the time that attending the Kentucky Derby would become such a frequent event during the next 40 years or that I would have a collection of Yvonne LaFleur designed hats stored in my closet in her beautiful hat boxes papered in bouquets of violets. Hmmm, maybe there’s a Casart design idea there! If you live in New Orleans and are going to the Derby or will be on the Rex reviewing stand on Mardi Gras, you know Yvonne and her millinery magic!
After so many Derbys, you’d think I would be a big winner. Sorry to disappoint. Oh, I know how to read a form and I understand betting. My trouble is the way I pick the horses. I’ve looked at the contenders for this year and here are my tips. Look At Lucky is trained by Bob Baffert and has 4-1 starting odds. The odds and trainer are good, but I picked it because my cat’s name is Lucky. I’d play it across the board and follow up with Jackson Bend trained by Nick Zito (another top trainer) with long shot odds of 20-1. I picked that one because Jackson is my last name. Of course, I can’t overlook Endorsement. He’s trained by a woman, Shannor Ritter, who is a former jockey (more powere to her!) and ridden by Robby Albarado who is a Louisiana native. I don’t know the colors of any of the horses but if there are any grey horses, I’d bet those to show because they rarely win but I always bet the greys. I’d also bet the field to show and my sure fire winning tip-bet every horse in the race to win and you can say you had the Derby winner! So much for reading the form! If you want to learn more about the Run for the Roses, here is the link to the official Kentucky Derby site.
Is the Derby just a horse race? Not at all. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown of racing. It is a fashion show. It is a lump in your throat when they play “My Old Kentucky Home” and the horses come out on the track. It is a party that starts early and ends late. There’s a song with lyrics by Ray Charles called One Mint Julep. It claims that julep “was the start of it all”. Yep, the day does start with a mint julep and ends with one, with a lot more in between those two! The best tasting ones are consumed from a silver julep cup, of course. In fact, Woodford Reserve has partnered with Tiffany to offer a $1000 silver julep cup with all proceeds benefiting the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center. Even if you don’t purchase the Tiffany designed cup, here is the recipe for what goes in it!
Woodford Reserve Mint Julep
1 level tsp powdered
2 – 3 fresh mint
2 oz. Woodford Reserve,
plus a bit more for muddling
Place powdered sugar in julep cup. Add fresh mint leaves. Wet with a splash of Woodford Reserve and muddle together using wooden muddler (a spoon works well also). Fill the cup 2/3 full with crushed ice.
Add a straw and mint sprig. Garnish and tamp down ice with muddler. Add 2 oz. of Woodford Reserve, and top off the cocktail with loose crushed ice.
– Lorre Lei