Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kentucky Derby {Churchill Downs}

Yesterday I shared about our time leading up to the Kentucky Derby and today is all about Derby Day!

Our group rented a home outside of Louisville, but it worked out great because we had transportation back and forth and it was fun to all be together instead of staying in separate hotel rooms.  I just loved seeing every all dressed up that morning and seeing all of the hats the ladies had picked and how they matched their dresses!

These fancy tickets were handed out and I was getting so excited!  Such a bucket list kind of experience and although it was VERY cold and rainy, I just knew we were going to have a great time.

The Mr. is not the most preppy of guys, so seeing him in a bow tie and looking every so dapper was a bonus. We clean up pretty well!

I was most worried about my shoes. I'd heard there would be a lot of walking and since I knew it would be raining I was really concerned, but I found these gold wedges the night before we left and just hoped they would be OK.  They worked out PERFECTLY!  They aren't too high of a heel and they are actually very comfortable. Plus, I had been looking for a pair of gold wedges I could wear all summer long so I know these will be put to great use!

I mentioned this yesterday, but I found my white lace Lilly Pulitzer dress at TJ Maxx about a month ago and knew right away I wanted to wear it for the derby.  Because it was so cold I ended up throwing on a navy cardigan to try to help keep me me warm!  I had brought a bunch of different necklaces and jewelry to decide between and I'm so happy I threw in my light blue beaded necklace. It belonged to my grandmother and it matched my hat perfectly!  Like it as meant to go together!

We arrived at Churchill Downs around 10:30 AM and I was surprised to learn there were horse races that took place all day long.  For some reason I just thought there was the one big race in the evening.  We were so thankful to be in a suite and out of the elements. Our suite had indoors areas and an outdoor rooftop area that was covered with large tents. The track was so wet and muddy and I felt bad for those horses.

By afternoon the rain had cleared and more people began to head into the stands.  We took this opportunity to leave our suite and walk around. It was fun exploring and even more fun people watching.  I will say that anything goes as far as attire and hats.  You have people who are dressed to the nines and then those making a mockery with crazy hats. There was one guy with a red, white, and blue suit wearing a hat with a big horse on the top of it.  Another woman had a hat with plastic flamingos.  Then there were plenty of beautiful dresses and hats, too.

After buying a few souvenirs of the kids it started raining again so we made our way back to the suite.  We enjoyed the complementary drinks including this signature cocktail, so appropriately named a Lilly!  I'll have to share the recipe soon, but let me just say it was delicious! 

Next we sipped on Mint Juleps, the real signature drink of the Kentucky Derby, while getting a lesson on horse betting.  This was another thing that I had no clue about.  Everyone gets a booklet with all of the stats and details on every single horse that will run that day.

I didn't realize that betting on the races was such a big deal. It's pretty much what people do all day long as they wait for the big race that evening.  We all put in $5 and as a group we would pick horses for every few races and bet couple of dollars here and there. We didn't win one single dime, but it made us all more invested in the races and had us cheering for our favorites.

Thankfully we had someone in our group that had been to the derby multiple times so he was a great resource in helping the guys strategize their bets.  While the girls in the group picked the names we liked best for our picks!

After another bad rainstorm it finally cleared up, just in time for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby!  It was crazy to see how packed the stands were at this time and even where we were got super busy all of the sudden.  People who had not watched one race before this point were trying to get close enough to see the action.

We'd been watching all day so we had a great, front row spot and were so excited for the main attraction!

The race began and as they horses came around the turn in front of us there was a flurry of excitement and then all of the sudden they were gone! It was over so fast and like they say, the Kentucky Derby is the fastest two minutes in sports.  

As soon as the race was over the stands cleared pretty quickly.  We hung around for one more race and then called it a day.  It was a wonderful experience we had an absolute ball...wind, rain, Mint Juleps and all!

When we got back to the car I was able to check through my phone and saw this sweet picture of my three.  All wearing their hats and watching the derby back home. They couldn't wait to ask us all about it when we got home the next day!  

Whether or not we go back next year, I will be putting my hat to good use. You better believe I'll at least host a derby party so everyone can get all dolled up, show off their hats, and drink a few Mint Juleps or Lillys in honor of the Kentucky Derby!

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