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Kentucky Derby 101

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The 138th running of The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and even if you are not a big fan of horse racing, the Derby is always an event worth watching.

Did you know that The Kentucky Derby is the most popular sporting event in the world, every year?  It’s much bigger than the; Super Bowl, World Series, Olympics, World Cup, etc.  It also is the single most ‘wagered on’ event worldwide, as well as the #1 most watched sporting event, annually.

The Kentucky Derby is held every year at the legendary Churchill Downs racetrack, and covers a distance of 1 1/4 miles.  The race is only for colts and fillies that are 3 years old.  The Derby is the first, and most prestigious, of the three Triple Crown races – The Preakness, from Pimlico Park in Maryland, is two weeks after the Derby, then three weeks later is The Belmont, in New York.

The Kentucky Derby is steeped in tradition, but is really all about fun.  Those ‘southerners’ know how to have a good time, too, believe me!  And, of course, there is always some money to be made on Derby Day.

Here, though, are some important, but little known facts – about one of the greatest living American traditions – The Kentucky Derby.  Impress your friends as you watch the race this Saturday, with these little tidbits.

1)  Most people know that the official beverage of The Kentucky Derby is the mint julep.  But did you know that there is an official food that is unique to the Derby, and Derby Day?  It is called “burgoo”, and is a thick stew, made of; beef, pork, chicken, and vegetables.  And if you’re drinking mint juleps – I’d suggest a few bowls of burgoo beforehand – those juleps are very strong!

2)  The first horse to win The Kentucky Derby that was owned by a woman, was Elwood, in 1904.  Ms. Laska Burnell and Mrs. J.B. Prather, both women, also bred and trained their colt, who won the race at odds of 55-1, mostly because the general public did not trust the horsemanship skills of two women.  Big mistake!

3)  Most jockeys before the 1930′s were African American.  In fact, 15 of the first 28 Derby winners were piloted by a black jockey.  And interestingly, the youngest jockey to ever win the Derby, remains Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, who won the Derby in 1892, at the age of 15.

4)  Hats are a big part of Derby Day, whether you’re male or female.  That started with the Royal Ascot, where all guests were required to wear proper attire, including top hats for the men, and hats for women. This heady tradition eventually carried across the pond to U.S. racetracks, and is a cherished tradition of the Derby since 1875.

There you have it – you have brushed up on your “Kentucky Derby 101″.

And if you happen to be wagering on the race this Saturday – keep your eye on my horse, his name is “Dullahan”, and he will be coming from way back!

The Kentucky Derby can be seen this Saturday @ 5pm, on NBC.

Good luck to everyone!

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