The Run for the Roses
As you all (should) know, this past weekend was the 135th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs. Along with the other 153,562 fans, I had the privilege to watch live history being made as a 50 – 1 odds horse named “Mind That Bird” stunned the crowd with a 6 3/4-length victory, the second-biggest upset in Derby history.
This was my fourth Kentucky Derby in the past five years and each year the experience is richer. While some say this is the most exciting two minutes in sports, I like to consider it the greatest two days. Residents of Louisville may even refer to it as the greatest two weeks, as the festivities begin two weeks before race day with the Thunder over Louisville Air and Firework Show and continue on until the last race on Derby Day.
For my friends and me, our Derby celebrations kick off with the Kentucky Oaks, which is the Filly race that takes place on the Friday before the Derby, and then continues on until Derby Day. The biggest difference for these two days besides the bigger hats and the brighter outfits is the signature drink. On Oaks Day fans can usually be found sipping pink cocktails known as the Oaks Lilly, and the infamous Mint Julep is the preferred drink of choice for the Derby (for those who like to tribute the Derby year-round, I have included recipes for both below).
Throughout my years attending this race, one thing I noticed this year was the large crowd. Despite the current economic conditions, Churchill Downs reported that the 2009 race was one of the top 10 most attended Derby races in history, marking the ninth time the attendance has surpassed 150,000. Those not in attendance were tuning in from home according to NBC, which announced that the race’s television ratings were the highest in 17 years, drawing a 9.8 national rating and a 23 share, according to the Associated Press. The AP also reported that the ratings were up 11 percent from last year’s 8.8/21, and it was the highest rating since a 10.3/30 when Lil E Tee won in 1992. What does this mean? Is one of America’s greatest sporting events recession-proof or are American’s just looking for something to celebrate?
What did you think of this year’s race? Do you think Mind That Bird has a chance at the Triple Crown?
Oaks Lilly Recipe
1 oz. Finlandia Vodka
1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
3 oz. Cranberry Juice
Splash of Triple Sec
The Early Times Mint Julep Recipe
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Early Times Kentucky Whisky
Silver Julep Cups