Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kentucky Derby Hats, Mint Juleps and Chocolate-Pecan Pie

I bought my Kentucky Derby hat in Solvang, California, before I even had a Derby party to wear it to. So when cousins, Aurora and Craig Lowell, invited my husband and I to the Kentucky Derby 2013 party at their home, I was ready.

The Kentucky Derby is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May. This year that fell on May 4th for the 139th horse race, also known as much for the sporting of elaborate hats on the ladies as for the running of the three year old thoroughbreds. The men at the party were not to be left hat-less though. They joined in the fun.

My husband, Rex, wore his hat in honor of the jockeys. He says it was as close as he could get to a jockey helmet. I thought he was looking especially handsome in his hat. 

Craig, our host, donned his Harley hat. 

Stu didn't complicate his balding head with a hat but he had the Kentucky Derby spirit as he happily filled his plate with foods made with touches of bourbon and all good things. 

Aurora, our hostess sporting her new hat, held up her Kentucky Derby shot glass. She used it to measure the perfect mint juleps.

Kelly and Jeanette were in style in a floppy hat and a hat of many feathers.

Three month old baby Lindsey came with her hat too. She was sleeping so she wouldn't miss the two minute race later. 

Waiting for the post time at the Kentucky Derby party, we were offered the customary beverage of the race, a mint julep. Aurora, our hostess, had made mint sugar syrup using mint from her own garden. The syrup mixed with Early Times Mint Julep bourbon and topped with fresh mint leaves  made an extraordinary and refreshing cocktail for this grand event. 

Churchhill Downs, the racetrack hosting the Kentucky Derby, has hosted this event since the first Kentucky Derby in 1875. The race is one and a quarter miles. With this short and fast track the Kentucky Derby has been characterized as "the greatest two minutes in sports" or "the most exciting two minutes in sports."

This year the rain made a muddy mess for the horses and jockeys. In this picture you can see the soggy racetrack. 

Attendance at the Kentucky Derby is a source of pride as it always ranks first in North America. It surpasses all other stakes races including the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. This year the attendance was 151,616, even with the pouring rain. 

After great anticipation, it was finally time for the race to begin. We tossed around who our favorite was to win. We would soon know, as they were off and running out of the gates.

It was exciting when we saw number 16, Orb, pulling out alongside the others as he plowed to the front. His feet were off the ground as he raced ahead.

The finish brought cheers as Orb was first to cross the coveted destination well ahead of the other contenders. It really was all a blur as Orb, Golden Soul, Revolutionary, Normandy Invasion and Mylute were the first five to finish the dazzling race.

Within only minutes the results were in for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby is also referred to as "The Run for the Roses". To the winning horse a luxuriant blanket of red roses containing 564 flowers is awarded each year. From this win, a chance for the US Triple Crown becomes a possibility. The next races will be the Preakness Stakes in two weeks and the Belmont Stakes three weeks after the Preakness. Orb will be running to claim the 12th spot as winner of all three of these events in a 125 year old history. 

After the race results, we still had one more tradition of the Kentucky Derby to partake of, a homemade chocolate pecan pie. Some recipes call for the option of bourbon so it's the cook's call on that. I can tell you the pie tasted as yummy as it looks. 

The party started winding down after the pie and all the part-goers were full and happy. A few of us stopped for some last minute photos to remember this joyous fun. Below is Kelly holding Lindsey, Jeanette, Me, Aurora and Nicky.

And the last picture of the dear Rex and his own Roaming Rita. 

Cheers and since I have the hat, let's keep these Kentucky Derby parties going. Anyone?