Saturday, May 6

The flowers of May have begun to blossom, but to many, roses are the only flower that matter this time of year. A giant blanket of 554 red roses, to be precise, the prize bouquet for winning America’s greatest horse race. The Kentucky Derby captures the hearts and minds of the sporting world every year since 1875, and this year marks the 143rd run for the roses.

The Kentucky Derby is the first of three major races that make up the Triple Crown. The excitement of finding a horse that can dominate all of these competitions is exciting enough that spectators come out in droves in hope of witnessing such a rare equine achievement. Although the race itself is a long-held tradition, the fans have made themselves a far more recognizable part of the affair.

Since the 1960s the ladies attending the Derby have stolen the spotlight from the thoroughbreds. The amazing feats of millinery that festoon the luxurious attendees are made for the winner’s circle. Every year they’re those beautiful hats that have everyone talking the most. But if it isn’t the hat on your head, then it’s the drink in your hand that is rooted in age-old tradition. A classic southern cocktail, the mint julep has long served as the official drink of the Derby.

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The Derby’s festivities run for two weeks leading up to race day. The Kentucky Derby Festival has been an annual tradition since the mid-1950s and boasts a wide variety of attractions. It all begins with an air show followed by “The Thunder Over Louisville,” a thirty minute fireworks spectacular. The events continue with hot air balloon races, a steamboat race, the Pegasus Parade, and innumerable concerts and other family events.

For those who aren’t flying down to bluegrass country, there will be no shortage of equestrian fun in the Twin Cities.  The Derby Day Affair at the Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis boasts miniature horses, live music, amazing food, prizes, and even a fashion show. It will run from 1 to 7 PM and is a ticketed event.

For the third year in a row Betty Danger’s in northeast Minneapolis will host their Kentucky Derbatante. The restaurant and bar famous for its Ferris wheel will serve an elegant menu to the crowd of fashionable race fans there. This is a ticketed event as well, and attendees should be ready for a full house.

Of course, if you want in on the action, you have to head to Canterbury Downs. They’ll have plenty of race day fun along with the added benefits of placing a wager, if you happen to be so inclined. Whether you stay in or go out, the Kentucky Derby is the horse race to see. So sit back, put on your fanciest hat, drink minty bourbon from a steel cup, and let somebody else do the running for a change!

 

By Sam Stinogel