Today is the first Saturday of May. No big deal, right?
Today is Saturday, May 7, 2011, the running of the 137th Kentucky Derby. It’s a holiday. Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s more like a religious experience.
When Kevin and I announced our engagement and we started planning our wedding, the first thing I did was look at a calendar. If you are a native Kentuckian, or planning a wedding in Kentucky or inviting guests from Kentucky, you CANNOT get married during Derby weekend. It’s sacrilegious. Not only would this be frowned upon, no one would attend because everyone is either at Churchill Downs or at a Derby party!
Another Derby tradition is the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home’ It doesn’t matter where I am — at Churchill Downs or the living room of my house in Joshua, Texas — I stand and sing at the top of my lungs. Every. Single. Word.
The Derby, along with Churchill Downs and the Twin Spires, is to horseracing as Augusta National is to golf; Wrigley Field to baseball; and Lambeau Field to football. It’s majestic and exhilarating all wrapped into the fastest two minutes of sports. Today, in front of 164,858 excited and screaming fans (a new Derby attendance record), Animal Kingdom won the 137th Kentucky Derby. I’m glad I didn’t place my bet because I would’ve put my money on Pants on Fire, who finished ninth in the field of 19.
But enough about the Derby. I want to share what most Kentuckians consider to be the treasured gem in the Commonwealth: the Kentucky Oaks. It’s the day for the ladies, most specifically the fillies (that would be a female horse) running at Churchill Downs the day BEFORE the Derby.
Just as the Derby winner receives a garland of red roses, the Oaks winner gets a garland of star-gazer lilies. Thus the saying, lilies for the fillies!
Most people don’t even know the Kentucky Oaks exists. I almost cried yesterday when a native Kentuckian asked me to explain the historic event. Are you kidding me?! The Oaks is a day for traditionalists and those wanting to enjoy a day at the racetrack without the splendor, pageantry, and celebrity chaos of the Derby. In its own right, the Oaks is meant to be reserved.
My favorite thing about Kentucky Oaks is pink, pink, and more pink! The day is all about PINK. Everything at Churchill Downs is pink, from the decor to the drinks. In fact, the Oaks has its own official pink drink: the Oaks Lily®.
If you’re in Louisville area the first weekend of May and you have the opportunity to attend the Oaks and/or the Derby, you have to go! However, when selecting your attire for the big day, please consider these two tips:
- at the Oaks, wear anything (within reason) you wish as long as it’s PINK
- Ladies: if you wear a hat, keep your dress and accessories simple – the hat is the star
Everyday is a good day to be a Kentucky Girl…..but I”m especially proud this weekend!