Don your finest hat and grab a tall, cool mint julep. The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and the TV event is a southern tradition that made its debut in 1875. The year 2014 marks the 140th Run for the Roses, the first of the Triple Crown races. The Preakness and Belmont Stakes take place on May 17 and June 7. However, the Kentucky Derby is the granddaddy of them all and America’s most prestigious horse race. As posted by CNN on May 1, the Derby is the only race that always runs – rain, shine and even torrential downpours.
The 2014 Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs in Louisville starts at 6:24 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 3. NBC will carry all the action live beginning at 4 and running until 7 p.m. EST. If you’re away from home, the Derby will live stream on NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 4 p.m. EST.
As posted on the official Kentucky Derby website on May 2, a field of 19 horses will run for the roses during the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Popular Hoppertunity scratched with a foot problem (see video above) and Pablo Del Monte scratched on Friday. The remaining contenders include Vicar’s In Trouble (24-1), Harry’s Holiday (8-1), Uncle Sigh (5-1), Danza (7-1), California Chrome (11-1), Samraat (24-1), We Miss Artie (9-1), General A Rod (25-1), Vinceremos (7-1), Wildcat Red (41-1), Dance With Fate (20-1), Chitu (5-1), Medal Count (20-1), Tapiture (8-1), Intense Holiday (8-1), Commanding Curve (50-1), Candy Boy (15-1), Ride On Curlin (15-1), and Wicked Strong (6-1).
In addition to being the fastest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby is also steeped in southern tradition. “Run for the Roses” from Dan Fogelberg’s “The Innocent Age” album released as a single in 1982 and has been the unofficial theme song of the Kentucky Derby ever since. A thick stew of beef, chicken and pork, called burgoo, is a popular Kentucky dish served at the Derby.
Of course, the biggest traditions at the Kentucky Derby include hats and mint juleps. As posted by NBC News, big hats mean big money when it comes to the Derby. People attending the race are willing to spend thousands of dollars on the perfect hat. Mint julep, a centuries old cocktail of bourbon and mint, is just as popular as hats at the Derby. Each year almost 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs, virtually all of them in specially made Kentucky Derby collectible glasses.
As the horses are paraded before the grandstands, the University of Louisville Marching Band plays Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home,” a tradition that began in 1921. The winning horse receives a blanket of 564 roses. That is why the Derby is referred to as the Run for the Roses. Unlike the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, which took hiatuses in 1891-1893 and 1911-1912, the Kentucky Derby has been run every consecutive year since 1875.
Fritz Hahn from the Washington Post beautifully summed up the spirit of the Kentucky Derby when he posted:
Even if you know nothing about horses, the Kentucky Derby is an excuse to don your favorite seersucker suit, sundress or elaborately decorated hat and spend a day drinking mint juleps.
Let the race begin. Be sure to tune in to NBC on Saturday to catch all of the 2014 Kentucky Derby action.