If you’re a resident of Kentucky, specifically the area surrounding Louisville, you are probably familiar with the Derby. You’ve grown up with it, and know it as an annual event. But for some, Derby season can be perplexing and insignificant. So what’s the big deal?
Known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Derby is always the first Saturday of May. 20 horses run on a one mile and a quarter dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It is the longest continuous sporting event in the United States. People come from around the world to attend Kentucky’s signature event, the Kentucky Derby. There are long-time traditions, legends and icons associated with the Kentucky Derby-the most prevalent listed below.
Hats, hats, and more hats! They have become commonplace when it comes to the Derby. What began as a high-class accessory, has now become part Southern tradition and part spectacle. Derby day hats sure make for great people watching!
“Run for the Roses®” is a common phrase you might hear around Derby time. It refers to the garland of roses the winner of the Derby receives. The sash is made of 400 roses, and hand-crafted by local florists.
The Oaks Lilly and Mint Julep are the drinks of the races. It’s not quite Derby season without enjoying at least one of these festive drinks!
Friday before the Derby is the Kentucky Oaks; it is always the first Friday in May. It is a fillies only run, and a celebration of the ladies. The Oaks includes a pink out and Survivors Parade.
“My Old Kentucky Home” is played as the horses make their way from the paddock to the starting gate. Surprisingly, it appears everyone in attendance knows the words and sings along.
If you are watching the Oaks and Derby from home, two likely questions you will hear from entertainment reporters are, “Who designed your hat?” and “Who is your pick to win the Derby?”
Whether you’re attending Derby festivities or watching them from the comfort of your own home, there are many traditions, legends, and icons to recognize and in which to take part.