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1. Mint Juleps
This renowned bourbon-mint deliciousness most notable for being the feature cocktail of the first race for the Triple Crown is quite obviously a successful Derby party absolute. Easy like Sunday morning to make and even easier to drink, you can concoct and throw this southern gem down at a pace faster than Secretariat’s 1974 record 1:59.4 – a feat Churchill Downs may never see replicated.
Officially adopted as the drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, this spirit has 18th century roots as an early morning remedy for the settlers in Virginia. Simple to make and even simpler to drink, the classic recipe is as follows:
Ingredients – Mint, Bourbon, Ice, Sugar Cubes
1. Place 3-5 leaves of mint (spearmint preferably), several ice cubes, and 1-2 sugar cubes, depending on size, into a tall glass. It should fill the glass about halfway. Since none of you own a pestle, use whatever you can get your hands on to mull the sugar cubes into the mint until the only thing you can smell is a pack of Trident gum.
2. Add bourbon. Your call here, but I traditionally like to stick with Churchill’s preference of Woodford Reserve. Usually three ounces is what the barkeep uses (2 shots worth, for the morons), but hey, I’m not going to tell you how much to drink.
3. Top off with more ice to taste. Throw on another mint leaf if you really want to be classy.
Each year, over 120,000 of these bad boys are served over the course of Friday and Saturday at the biggest racetrack in Louisville, KY. God knows how many million more are consumed by rowdy gentlemen and three-time a year equine enthusiasts nationwide.
2. Outlandish, “Fuck you, it’s Derby Day!” Attire
Objective of the day: Look dapper as possible. Feel free to surround yourself with as many beautiful slams as possible.
Others, sometimes for reasons I cannot fathom go a different route however…
To each his own on Derby Day, I suppose.
3. An Awesome Horse To Root For
Notice how I said “awesome” instead of winning? I will forever bet on any horse trained by Bob Baffert, I usually like to pick the exacta with the odds on favorites, and sometimes tempted a few trifectas here and there through the years. Far and away though, my favorite bet to make for any of the Triple Crown races are the underdogs with a name awesome enough to garner the coat of roses in its own right. It just makes for a good time throughout the day when you’re telling those you encounter during your drunken escapades who you’ve got your parents’ money riding on.
This year, one of the longest shots in the race is a grey Kentucky-bread colt named Frac Daddy. He’s running from the 18th spot off the post, and he’s got 50/1 odds. I’m throwing a cool $10.00 on him and telling myself that his name has been gravely misspelled by the media and bookies in the week long tabloid barrage leading up to the race. In reality, it’s a tribute to the oil industry’s practice of fracking, as his owners are two petroleum tycoons hailing from Montana, coincidentally, the frattest place on earth. Despite the fact that 124 years have passed since a horse associated with Montana wore the coat of roses and with the odds heavily against him, Frac Daddy is still a phenomenal pick this Saturday. Hell, he already has a win at Churchill under his saddle. It’s worth a chance bet that FD has got what it takes to replicate his winning ways – this time on the grandest of all stages. His owners believe he’s capable of shocking everyone on Saturday and for a possible $500 payout, you’re damn right I’m taking to believing it too.
The full 20 thoroughbred posting and betting odds can be found here.
4. A Pony Playlist
Technically the field posting at 6:24 pm sharp on Saturday are colts and fillies, not ponies, but “pony playlist” just sounds sweeter. Plus, “pickin’ ponies” is my go to slang for horse betting, so there’s that. Make no mistake that the first song on this shuffle is “My Old Kentucky Home,” the Churchill steeple staple anthem annually performed by the University of Louisville marching band as the jockeys parade their rides into the starting gate. From there, playlist direction is all yours, but I’ll go on record saying mine contains a lot of southern twang and of course, Wagon Wheel. A few versions.
5. A Place To Watch the Ponies Run
It is absolutely essential that you have a resolute plan on where you’re watching the Derby and execute it to perfection, no matter how immensely you imbibe. Missing the “Two Most Exciting Minutes in Sports” is a cardinal sin in my book. Hopefully none of you end up being that dude who wakes up realizing you don’t remember who you bet on, where you spent all of your money, or God forbid aren’t even aware of who won the race, because you got too fucked up to actually enjoy it. The Kentucky Derby is a beautiful tradition; one of the classiest in America if I may say so myself, seeing this is the 139th consecutive year this it is being run. That said, as a humble American, I’ve always thought you should treat Derby Day with the respect and honor it deserves. In spite of how debauchery-ridden your binge track on Derby Day may be, make sure you’re in front of a television or several to watch it live if you can’t be there, because it’s fucking exhilarating.
Twenty horses racing a 1 ¼ mile for $2.19 million in front of a crowd of 160,000 well-dressed, good-looking, shitfaced patrons. FaF and only in America.