Pick Your Horse and Plan Your Party

OK, it’s time to get serious and start looking at the horses. Here’s a link to the Kentucky Derby Contenders page, which gives you not only the name, owner, trainer, breeder, and jockey for the horse, but also pictures of the horse and the jockey’s silks (very important). Click on the horse’s name to see everything except what type of oats he ate for breakfast this morning. I’m sad to say it doesn’t look like my favorite three-year-old this year, First Dude, will be running. He’s a beautiful horse out of Run Sarah Run, and I was wild about him even before I found out my mom graduated from high school with his owner, Donald Dizney. That’s right, Lynch High School class of 1960 – a grand total of 48 graduates that year.

After you’ve picked your horse (or at least selected a few likely candidates) it’s time to plan your party. Once again, please welcome Michael for a few tidbits of history and some Derby Party prep!

The Friday before The Kentucky Derby is treated like a holiday in Louisville. School is out, many offices close for the day and by 3 p.m. very few people are still at work. The 150,000 people that attend the Derby each year is one thing but the countless Derby Parties held throughout the Metro area are rich in tradition as well. Whether in a private home, a bar, country club, VFW Post, you name it if you don’t host one it is likely you attend one.

The beauty of the internet gives anyone, anywhere that would like to host a Derby Party the same ability as those of us here in Louisville to gather with close friends and family members to have a wonderful day of food, drink, and wagering on those beautiful horses. With twinspires.com and sites where Derby party supplies are available you can be a Kentuckian every first Saturday in May. All it takes is the desire to have a good time with people you care about! The entire race card gets National coverage so you can be a part of it all day.

Up to and including the 1948 Derby with “Citation” winning and going on to win the Triple Crown you either had to be at Churchill Downs to see it live or be able to tune it in on the radio and hear it live. The only other way to see the race or hear the call was days later during the “Newsreel” segment at the Movie Theater. In 1949 the Kentucky Derby was shown live on local television for the first time and I am unofficially claiming 1949 as the year that began the offsite Derby Party. It makes sense when you think about it and the winning horse was “Ponder”. Hmmm, could it be? I wonder!

The beauty of Derby Parties all over the world is that you make traditions and add to them in your own way just as the event itself does. There are a few things I want to pass along that I have seen at every Derby Party such as drawing a horse in a random pick along with innovative wagering within the party group itself where you pick your winner or who hits the board, and winner takes all. Be creative. Children racing on stick horses, silly hats, your own Millionaires Row, your own Infield Crowd but keep it at least PG if kids are around! The main thing is to have a good time for no apparent reason. It has worked for us 135 years and counting. Welcome to the Festival! Make it your own and pass along new traditions.

Here’s a little lagniappe just because ~ Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, sent me three cute little recipe books called “The Bourbon Cocktail Guide”. The first three people who comment (and have their email either in their profile or their comment so I can get hold of them) are winners.

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2 thoughts on “Pick Your Horse and Plan Your Party”

  1. Great post Michael. Why don't you have your own blog, maybe on Kentucky History. Thanks also for the wonderful music.

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