After spending a full weekend at Churchill Downs, I had to split the experience into two posts. Be sure to read my Kentucky Derby Experience: Part 1, which detailed our day at the track culminating in The Kentucky Oaks race. Today’s post is all about the main event – Derby Day!
As most great days should, our day began with brunch. Our Louisville friends had a reservation for our group at the Louisville Country Club. I’m not sure brunch gets any better than when it’s had in a room that’s a sea of hats and fascinators. I wish I could dress like that for brunch all the time. The LCC is a beautifully manicured property dating back to 1908. I love to think about every Derby Day that place has seen, and how the fashion changed from year to year. A long buffet of sweet and savory delights was crowned with a horseshoe centerpiece carved from ice, while a two-person instrumental group entertained diners with jazzy versions of popular songs. I had a Louisville “hot brown” for the first time – an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich that’s been covered in Mornay sauce and broiled. It was pretty tasty! A mimosa and coffee later and I was ready for the most exciting two minutes in sports.
For the Oaks day I wore a pink fascinator and had planned to wear a different one for Derby Day. Weeks ago when planning my outfits I’d really wanted to wear a giant hat, but the thought of flying with it seemed too daunting. Although, both of our flights had overhead bins stuffed with hat boxes so I would have been ok. My local friend J. offered to lend me one of her hats and I couldn’t have been more excited. It actually matched my dress perfectly! As much as the day is about the racing, I think it’s also about the incredible fashion. You just think you’ve seen a large hat until you come to The Kentucky Derby. From feathers and florals to ribbons and lace, each hat evoked the personality of the person wearing it.
The signature drink is, of course, the mint julep, served traditionally in a copper cup. My grandmother has always been a big fan of the mint julep, and I know she would be there in her big hat sipping and smiling. It’s been said that every year around 120,000 mint juleps are consumed at Churchill Downs. We certainly enjoyed our share (maybe more than our share).
Several races take place throughout the day, ending with the Derby. We experienced an epic rainfall that some might think puts a damper on the fun. But I have always thought that a horse race in the rain is the prettiest. There’s just something about seeing those incredible horses pounding through the mud and the jockeys colored silks all blending into one shade of brown. It’s almost like it’s happening in slow motion. When the race is over, everyone looks like they battled for their lives, no matter how they placed. That wet dirt is a badge of honor for having competed in one of the greatest sporting events of all time.
We placed a small bet on Justify to win, which he did! I felt it was right to bet on him because we’d worn his button on our clothes for two days. We even met one of his owners so it felt a little more special to be pulling for him.
After the Derby, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at our friends’ home. Looking fabulous and sipping mint juleps all day can really take it out of you! I am still nursing a Derby Day hangover. Not the kind that involves copious amounts of Tylenol. But the kind where a good time just hangs over you for a few days. It’s almost like not waking from a dream, but in this case I know it was real. I was there. I lived the excitement. And I’ve hummed My Old Kentucky Home on more than one occasion since. My dresses are back from the cleaners and my fascinators are back in their boxes. All I can think about is what excuse I’ll need to put it all on again. Maybe we will get to experience The Kentucky Derby again someday. Until then, the sun will shine bright on my memories.
Shop our Kentucky Derby looks:
xo – Erin
The Kentucky Derby Experience: Part 2 appeared first on CathedralsandCafes.com
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