5/2/2012 10:58 PM
As the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby nears, some people are placing bets while others are brushing up on traditions. The event this Saturday is much more than the "greatest two minutes in sports;" it's a complete experience with storied rituals that fans look forward to.
Large or small, contemporary or old-fashioned, big brimmed, feathered, flowery, or furry... both men and women top off their Derby duds with a variety of ostentatious head wear. Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is nearly as important as the race itself. There are no rules or limits when it comes to Derby hats.
Garland of Roses
In 1904 the red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. The tradition was strengthened when, in 1925, New York sports columnist Bill Corum, later the president of Churchill Downs, dubbed the Kentucky Derby the "Run for the Roses." The garland as it exists today was first introduced in 1932 for the 58th running won by Burgoo King.
Each year, a garland of more than 400 red roses is sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth on one end and the Twin Spires and number of the race’s current renewal on the other. Each garland is also adorned with a "crown" of roses, green fern and ribbon. The "crown," a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to reach the Derby Winner’s Circle.
Constructed in 1895, the Twin Spires were the creation of a 24-year-old draftsman, Joseph Dominic Baldez, who was asked to draw the blueprints for Churchill Downs' new grandstand. Originally the plans did not include the Twin Spires atop Churchill Downs’ roofline, but as the young Baldez continued work on his design, he felt the structure needed something to give it a striking appearance.
Described as towers in the original drawing, the hexagonal spires exemplify late 19th century architecture, in which symmetry and balance took precedence over function. Although Baldez designed many other structures in Louisville, the Twin Spires remain as an everlasting monument to his memory. Former Churchill Downs President Matt J. Winn is reported to have told Baldez, "Joe, when you die there's one monument that will never be taken down, the Twin Spires."
The Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail has been "The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby" for more than 18 years. Each year, almost 120,000 of them are served over the Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice. (Click here for 5 Kentucky Derby Cocktail Recipes!)
My Old Kentucky Home
Although there is no definitive history on the playing of the Stephen Foster ballad as a Derby Day tradition, it is believed to have originated in 1921 for the 47th running of the classic. The Louisville Courier-Journal in its May 8, 1921, edition reported, "To the strains of 'My Old Kentucky Home,' Kentuckians gave vent their delight. For Kentucky triumphed in the Derby." The story refers to the popular victory of the Kentucky-owned and bred Behave Yourself.
A report by the former Philadelphia Public Ledger provides evidence that 1930 may have been the first year the song was played as the horses were led to the post parade - "When the horses began to leave the paddock and the song 'My Old Kentucky Home' was coming from the radio, the cheering started."
Since 1936, with only a few exceptions, the song has been performed by the University of Louisville Marching Band as the horses make their way from the paddock to the starting gate.
Tune in to the NBC Sports network all day May 5th for complete coverage of the Kentucky Derby. Post time is 6:24pm ET.
Source, Photos: KentuckyDerby.com
Posted by Michelle
5/2/2012 10:58 PM |