10 Fun Facts About This Year’s Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs in 1901. Photo courtesy of kentuckyderby.com

Tomorrow it’s Kentucky Derby Day! Now that you already know what to cook for your party, thanks to a shared holiday with Cinco de Mayo, we can now focus on picking our winning horses.

Here are 10 fast fun facts about this year’s race if you are still trying to decide on a winner…

Fun Fact #1…

That’s Victor Espinoza on the left and Kent Desormeaux on the right.

Two jockeys, Victor Espinoza (riding Bolt D’ Oro) and Kent Desormeaux (riding My Boy Jack) are the only two jockeys out of the twenty participating that have won the Kentucky Derby three times before. Victor won in 2002, 2014 and 2015. Kent won in 1998, 2000 and 2008.

Fun Fact #2…

Instilled Regard

The kind-hearted gentleman of the race, Derby contender Instilled Regard was named in the spirit of good sportsmanship. His name reflects his owner’s desire to treat all fellow competitors with respect, kindness and sincerity. In today’s troubling world we can use all the kindness we can get, so we say cheers to Instilled Regard for keeping things convivial on the field this year.

Fun Fact #3…

Left to right: Kyle Frey, Paco Lopez and James Graham.

It’s the first time competing in the Kentucky Derby for all three of these jockeys. Kyle will be riding Blended Citizen, Paco on Firenze Fire and James on Lone Sailor.

Fun Fact #4…

That’s Firenze on the left and baby Bolt on the right.

Two entrants share the same birthday – March 17, 2015. Firenze Fire and Bolt D’Oro were both born on that day which also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day. Sounds pretty lucky, if you ask us!

Fun Fact #5…

As far as jockey breakdown by nationality goes, the United States leads with six jockeys hailing from American soil. Panama, Puerto Rico and Mexico tied with the next largest amount – each boasting three jockeys apiece. France and Venezula each have two. And the U.K. and Ireland each boast one. Jockeys and their birthplaces are broken down as follows…

UNITED STATES: Mike Smith, Kent Desormeaux, Cory Lanerie, Robby Albarado, Draydon Van Dyke, Kyle Frey.

PANAMA: Luis Saez, Jose Lezcano, Ricardo Santana Jr.

PUERTO RICO: Jose Ortiz, John Velazquez, Irad Ortiz Jr.

MEXICO: Victor Espinoza, Luis Contreras, Paco Lopez

VENEZUELA: Javier Castellano, Junior Alvarado

FRANCE: Florent Geroux, Flavien Prat

IRELAND: James Graham

U.K. : Ryan Moore

Fun Fact #6…

My Boy Jack on the left and Mendelssohn on the right

The oldest horse running in the Derby this year is My Boy Jack, born on January 26, 2015.  The youngest of the bunch is Mendelssohn who was born May 17, 2015.

Fun Fact #7…

This trio brought in the most prize money. Clockwise starting at top: Magnum Moon ($1.4 million), Mendelssohn ($1.9 million)  and Good Magic ($1.8 million)

The most expensive horse in the race this year is Mendelssohn with a purchase price of $3 million. He was also one of the top three earners in the field.

Mendelssohn at the Keeneland Yearling Sale

Fun Fact #8

Clockwise from top left: Free Drop Willy, Audible, Lone Sailor and Bolt D’Oro

Four of the horses running in the race are associated with sports. Free Drop Billy was named after the golf term, free drop. Audible and Lone Sailor both have football connections. Lone Sailor was owned by the past owner of New Orleans Saints football team, Tom Benson who recently passed away. Audible refers to the football play call.  And Bolt D’Oro was named after famous sprinter Usain Bolt.

FUN FACT #9

Winstar Farms

Winstar Farms in Versailles, KY has connections to four of the horses in the Derby this year. They are the owners of Audible, Noble Indy and Justify and were breeders of Bolt D’Oro and Noble Indy.

Fun Fact #10

As of this writing, Instilled Regard is the long shot at 99-1 odds.  There’s the terrible cliche that says nice guys finish last, but we have big hopes for this guy, which brings us to the Vintage Kitchen’s picks for this year’s Derby winner…

If you have your own favorites, share them in the comments below. It’s always more fun to watch the race when you have your own specific champions in mind.  Check out the complete list of contenders on the Derby’s official website here.

Cheers to daydreaming and Derby! The fun continues tomorrow with a post on our Derby party table decorations combining horseracing and Cinco de Mayo. Stay tuned!

Derby Day Fun: Pick A Winner, Win A Prize

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It’s Kentucky Derby time dear readers! As you know from past years, this is always a fun and festive time in the land of Ms. Jeannie. The roses are blooming, the mint is growing and the party planning is underway. Post time for the big race is Saturday (May 7th) at 6:34pm, where 20 horses will compete in the 142nd run for the roses. As of this (blog) post publication time, the field is large this year with 26 entrants in possible contention, which means six names will drop off before Saturday.

It’s a big guess as to who will make the final list and who will win the Derby. Anything is possible in horse racing and nothing can be left up to certainty until hooves pass the finish line, which is one of the elements that make this Saturday so exciting. In honor of such spirited sportsmanship, Ms. Jeannie is hosting a little competition of her own right here on the blog. Post the name of the winner in the comments section between now and 5:45pm on Saturday and you’ll win a very cool vintage prize that will be mailed out to you on Monday.

Here are all 26 entrants compiled in three sets in random order. Pick your favorite, type their name in the comments section below this post and Ms. Jeannie will be in touch if you (lucky you!) have chosen the winner!

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2016 Kentucky Derby Entrants: 1.Lani 2. Outwork 3. Suddenbreakingnews 4. Brody’s Cause 5. Gun Runner 6. Discreetness 7. Nyquist

You can only enter once, so make your selection count!

8.
8. Dazzling Gem 9. Mo Tom 10. My Man Sam 11. Creator 12. Adventist 13. Shagaf 14. Fellowship 15. Trojan Nation 16. Exaggerator

You can be easy breezy about this whole contest by picking a horse by name or face value or you can read up on each of the entrants on kentuckyderby.com 

18.
17. Cherry Wine 18. Tom’s Ready 19. Laoban 20. Mor Spirit 21. Destin 22. Oscar Nominated 23.  Mohaymen 24. Majesto 25. Whitmore 26. Danzing Candy

Good luck dear readers and happy guessing! Contest winner will be announced early next week!!!

Catch up on past Derby Day festivities here.  Photo credits of all racers in this post courtesy of: ladyandthetrack.com, coady photography, thisishorseracing.com, dylan buell, el porto roberto, horse racing nation, kentuckyderb.com, clb photography

Might We Have A Triple Crown Winner?

Hopefully my dears, you had the chance to watch the Preakness on Saturday.

I’ll Have Another vying for the win at the Preakness!

It was nail biting all the way down to end, when I’ll Have Another won literally by a nose or a neck, depending on your vantage point! How exciting to watch him barrel down the last quarter stretch neck and neck with Bodemeister, only to summon that very last bit of “umph” to guarantee himself the winner of the Preakness!

I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister battling it out.
Another viewpoint. You can see how close they were!

It was cute to watch him saunter around the track afterwards like it was no big deal. Just another day of racing!

If you missed it, here’s the race in full…

I’ll Have Another’s jockey, Mario Gutierez sang the praises of his talented partner. Here’s what he said:

“This is not about me. We talked about it with Mr. Reddam and Mr. O’Neill. We wanted to be a little bit closer to Bodemeister this time because normally that horse runs a huge race. My horse has a tremendous kick in the end. He has been proving that in the last three races. He didn’t disappoint again today.”

“I want to put the pressure a little bit on the side because the credit he earned all this. He has proven a lot of people wrong. I just have to prepare because I want to be at the same level as him. He’s an amazing horse.”

Such a humble pair those to are! And now it is on to the Belmont. If I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown, he will be the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to hold that honor, proving how rare and spectacular an athlete all the Triple Crown horse winners really are.

Affirmed winning the Belmont, and therefore, the Triple Crown in 1978.

2012 Kentucky Derby Party Menu

When Ms. Jeannie spent a couple of years in a rented house on a horse farm in pastoral Pennsylvania, she fell under the spell of Derby fever.  She lived in PA at the exciting time of Smarty Jones’ run for the trifecta, when friends would host ‘Smarty Partys”  and the pride of a local hometwown horse victory could be felt miles around.

Smarty Jones headding to victory at the Preakness!

Smarty won the Kentucky Derby. Everybody cheered! Smarty won the Preakness by 11 1/2 lengths. Everybody was enraptured!  Smarty rounded the last quarter mile at Belmont in the lead. Everybody was anxious. He neared the finish line. Hearts were hopeful!  Birdstone made a run from behind. Smarty and Birdstone were neck and neck. Birdstone crept ahead. Birdstone wins the Belmont.  You could have cut the devastation in half that day. It seems everybody was rooting for Smarty – even Birdstone’s jockey apologized!

And that, dear ones, is what makes horse racing so exciting! You just never know what may happen until the very last second. Sports enthusiast or not, everyone can appreciate a good suspense story and that’s just what the Derby delivers, year after year.

With just a week and a half left until Derby day, Ms. Jeannie has party preparations on her mind.  Every year, she sticks to a few traditions and then adds new elements on top to keep her guests surprised.

Ms. Jeannie always starts the party planning process by watching her two favorite horse movies…

Next, Ms. Jeannie visits kentuckyderby.com and reads up on all the entrants. Ms. Jeannie is a sucker for any horse that is white or has a great name. This year she has her eye on a few…

Hansen (aka the white one!)

Hansen

And these creative namers:

Went The Day Well
Daddy Long Legs
I’ll Have Another

And, because she loves all things Irish, Ms. Jeannie is throwing an extra bet on the Donegal Racing Stables entrant…

Dullahan

The favorite of the race right now is Union Rags, who has had an impressive race history and comes from a long line of champions. Ms. Jeannie always like the underdogs the best though. So she’s going to stick with her top picks above. Although that Union Rags is one pretty cute horse!

Union Rags

Now that she has her favorites picked out, she can start her party planning.

FLOWERS

Traditionally red roses would be the flower of choice for table decorations at any Derby party, but Ms. Jeannie likes to mix things up, so she’ll be using red clover flowers instead. They are blooming en masse in her side yard, and look so lovely and farmy that she can’t resist picking a few bucketfuls.

Red clover flower blossoms

MUSIC

The Corduroy Road was an Athens, GA based bluegrass/folk/Americana band that Ms. Jeannie first heard at an outdoor market a few years ago. She loved their twangy sound and old-fashioned lyrics, so much that she had them come play at her friends surprise birthday party.  Sadly, one of the two singers left the band to go to medical school, so they don’t play together anymore, but luckily they gave Ms. Jeannie some music before they said their goodbyes. So she treasures each song dearly and plays them often.  It is perfect party music, since it is subtle but upbeat. See for yourself… here’s one of their you tube videos…

COCKTAILS

When there is a horse running in the Derby with the name, I’ll Have Another, you just have to make them the star of the cocktail hour! Ms. Jeannie always serves Mint Juleps (tradition of course!) but this year she will also serve a new drink to match the bay color of I’ll Have Another. This drink is a Southerner’s delight, containing Jack Daniels whiskey (appropriate!), pecans, sherry and an intriguing  smoked element that can either be done on the grill or the stove.

Smoke Signals cocktail

Smoke Signals – Makes 4

  • 2 cups pecan wood chips (or hickory)
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 10 tablespoons Jack Daniels Whiskey or 10 tablespoons other whiskey
  • 6 tablespoons amontillado sherry wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Line heavy large pot with heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle wood chips over bottom of pot; cover. Turn exhaust fan on high. Heat pot over high heat until smoke begins to form inside pot. Fill 9 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch metal loaf pan with ice. Place in pot; cover tightly. Smoke ice until just melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Cover loaf pan tightly with plastic wrap; freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Using ice pick, cut ice block crosswise into *large* smoked ice chunks allowing 1 per glass. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep frozen.
  2. Bring 1 cup water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pecans; reduce heat to medium and simmer until syrup tastes like pecans, about 12 minutes. Strain; discard pecans. Cover and chill pecan syrup until cold, about 2 hours.
  3.  Place 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons pecan syrup in cocktail shaker. Fill with plain ice cubes; cover and shake until cold. Divide mixture between 2 old-fashioned glasses. Repeat with remaining 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons pecan syrup, and ice. Place 1 smoked ice chunk in each glass and serve.
DINNER MENU
In honor of all white Hansen, Ms. Jeannie will serve an assortment of white cheeses from Trader Joe’s. She is keeping appetizers low-maintenance this year since the Smoke Signals cocktail is a little more involved. Plus, everybody loves cheese and Trader Joe’s carries a wide variety from all over the world.
For the main course, carrying the Irish theme for Dullahan, Ms. Jeannie will make a Braised Brisket with a Bourbon Peach Glaze.  Of course the peach glaze, gives it a southern flair, but it retains its Irish roots by being braised in beer! Ms. Jeannie will also being using locally raised grass-fed beef, other than that she will follow the recipe exactly. If all goes well it look like this:
Braised Brisket with Bourbon Peach Glaze

For a side dish, Ms. Jeannie will make homemade, oven baked bistro french fries, which for the occassion, she will rename, Daddy Long Legs, after one of her favorite Derby contenders in the creative names category.

For the recipe click here Bistro French Fries with Parsley and Garlic

For a second side dish, Ms. Jeannie will make a wilted spinach salad with goat cheese, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, along with a homemade white wine dressing.

She’ll throw a few loaves of crusty french bread on the table as well and call dinner done!

For dessert, she will carry the Went The Day Well theme and offer her guests a bountiful array of locally grown strawberries (now in season!), crumbled dark chocolate pieces, smoked almonds and espresso. If she planned correctly, her guests will have indeed felt that in fact the day went well!

HAT

What’s a derby party without a hat! Ms. Jeannie still needs to get her derby hat, so don’t you panic either, there is still a little time left. Etsy has a large selection, depending on your budget. Here are Ms. Jeannie’s favorites in the following price points:

Under $20.00

Ivory Rose Fascinator by CastleMemories – $18.00

Under $50.00

1970’s Picture Hat from the Vintage Hat Shop – $42.00

Under $60.00

Wide Brim Black Derby Hat by theoiginaltree – $54.99

Under $80.00

Hot Pink Fascinator by HatsByCressida – $80.00

Under $200.00

Blue Sinamay Derby Hat by daisyhere – $175.00
Or you if you are of the crafty sort, you can make your own homemade derby hat from things lying around the house or the craft store. Either way, you’ll look stunning!
If you have any Derby traditions you’d like to share, please send us a message or a photo!
Cheers to all you race fans!