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CHURCHILL DOWNS / KENTUCKY DERBY DAYS

One of Kentucky’s Proud Moments

By Glenn Arnette, lll

It is one of the most prestigious horse races in the United States. It is in the class of Ascot in England and to those of us in America, it is royalty! The Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky just had the 137 running of the horses. Each time, it is a moment in history. On that one day, dreams are made and hearts can be broken. You can win or you can lose.The track formally opened May 17, 1875 and from that day, it has maintained a dignity that has never been surpassed. It is an American historic moment.

The first Kentucky Derby race occurred in that same year. Close to 10,000 people watched as 15 thoroughbred horses ran what was then a 1.5 mile course. In 1876, the length of the race was changed to 1.25 miles. As time passed the winners of the Derby went on to race in the Preakness Stakes in Maryland and the Belmont Stakes in New York. That was the beginning of the term, “Triple Crown”.

Now we could go on about the history, but the most important thing on race day in modern USA is the Mint Julep – The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint, and a sweet syrup and is traditionally served in a commemorative Kentucky Derby glass or you can consider drinking it out of a “silver julep cup”. Most Southern people have a collection at home.

Now a good drink must come with good food and the famous Derby meal is the Burgoo a thick, meaty stew that is a tradition.

Another tradition equally as important as food and drink is the Derby Hat Parade – The derby hat parade takes place inside of Churchill Downs and refers to the sea of stylish and elegant hats worn by women and men alike during the Kentucky Derby.

Racing Day is extravagance at its best. There is lots of money and most of all a gathering of “fun people”. From the infield to the posh club rooms, you can mingle with the stars, jockeys, owners and even stand fairly close to the real performers of the day, the horses. Kentucky is the most beautiful state and this year the weather was perfect for the race. With the sun shining and the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” it was time for another moment in the history of horse racing! Congratulations to all of the people who are responsible for the beauty of these historical moments. If you have never had the privilege of attending the Derby and / or visiting Churchill Downs, make them a part of your travels.Check the web site: www.churchilldowns.com

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