Friday, May 6, 2011

Let's Get Ready to Rumble...For the Roses

Derby Day is upon us, and this sports-o-nista could not be happier. For one, I love a sporting event where you get to wear a big hat. And for another, I love the fact that this Saturday only marks the beginning of a six week journey into horse racing's elusive and exclusive top prize, a Triple Crown winner. But mostly, I love that the same amount of excitement and tradition we usually would apply to our more popular sporting events - Super Bowl, World Series - gets crammed into 2 minutes of an exhilarating race down the backstretch. And did I mention I get to wear a big hat?

Yay Pretty Hats!

Now is the time in the blog that I tend to throw in a witty anecdote about my topic of choice, but the Derby is a serious matter (can I get a dimming of the lights and a Kenny Mayne scowl please?). Looking at this year's wide open field, it's safe to say that it's pretty much a crap shoot as to who will walk (trot?) away with the blanket of roses. But I'm here to give my expert advice on some horses to keep your eye on. Let's start with....

1. The Odds-On Favorite: Dialed In, trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Julian Leparoux, is coming off a win at the Florida Derby. A Nick Zito trained horse and a 1st place finish in one of the more formidable qualifying races is a stellar combination, but in the recent past, the post-time favorite usually blows it.

2. The Pletcher Prodigy: Uncle Mo, who comes into the Derby as the highest graded winnings earner, is touted as the next super star by trainer Todd Pletcher. No matter how much Pletcher waxes poetic about this colt, though, it's hard to ignore the fact that Uncle Mo is still recovering from upset tummy issues (aww, a horse after my own heart).

3. The Up and Comer: ArchArchArch, who placed first in the Arkansas Derby, is apparently one to watch on ESPN's Claire Novak's list. The colt has posted eye-opening workout times this week, and any horse trained by a man named Jinks is sure to have something special. But jockey Jon Court is going to have all he can handle with drawing the dreaded rail post.

4. And These Three: These three horses are the ones that have caught my eye (which of course means you should like them as well, n'est-ce pas?).

- Pants on Fire- The Louisiana Derby winner, this colt loves to race in the dirt. Plus, he's being ridden by jockey Rosie Napravnik, who will be only the sixth woman to ever ride in the Derby. I love a good trailblazer!

- Midnight Interlude- Bob Baffert's only horse in the field hasn't had much experience, but he had a great workout on a sloppy track Monday and finished first in the Santa Anita Derby. And who among us doesn't enjoy a good midnight interlude now and again? Yeah, I don't know. Bear with me...

Because finally, my money might just be on Twice the Appeal. He's posted weak speed figures (although the incoming rain should make for a slower track), but I can tell you this one and very important thing.....Calvin Borel is his jockey. You may recall I mentioned Borel in my post on Wednesday (or you may not....but hopefully you do...stop drinking those Oaks Lillys!). Borel has taken 3 out of the last 4 Derbies, including a winning ride on super longshot Mine That Bird, who stumbled out of the gate and fell an initial 8 lengths behind the field. So yeah, if Calvin was riding a three-legged donkey in the race, it would still probably be my pick.

My fav Crazy Cajun Calvin Borel
Ok Derby fans...who do you like to win on Saturday? Do you think Borel can make it 4 out of 5? Do you know all the words to My Old Kentucky Home? Let me know!


Since I gave you the recipe on Wednesday for the official Kentucky Oaks drink, the Oaks Lilly, I figured I'd better share a recipe with you for the drink of the Derby...the Mint Julep:

The Early Times Mint Julep Recipe

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint                                                                            
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
The best times are enjoyed responsibly.
 Early Times Distillery Co., Kentucky Whisky. 40 percent Alc. By Volume. Louisville, KY 2006

Thanks to for the images and drink recipes.


Meg said...

As much as I enjoy the name, Derby Kitten was the replacement for Toby's Corner, who scratched earlier this week. Can't root for a horse who didn't make the original cut!

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