Pure Leaf invited me to attend the Kentucky Derby, where I learned all about their real, leaf-brewed iced tea (not powder!) and enjoyed it in context of the Kentucky Derby (think tea julep). It was a glorious experience, starting with a Taste of Derby event on Thursday night, the Kentucky Oaks on Friday (more info below) and the well-known Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Yes, just so you know: I wore hats, heels, sipped bourbon and placed bets. I snapped pics, ogled fancy hats and dropped my jaw at horses whizzing by.
Although the Kentucky Derby is the darling of the Kentucky races—and the name commonly used to refer to this weekend—this ‘derby’ weekend is much more than just a single race. There are two full days of races (approximately a dozen races each day), where you can walk around, eat bourbon chicken, sip mint juleps and gawk at everything from high end fashion to serious fashion fopauxs. I couldn’t help but write this quick post to highlight the Kentucky Oaks—a day of races, a parade of breast cancer survivors and the race day frequented by locals—which for 138 years has been hosted the day before the Kentucky Derby.
While the Kentucky Derby crowns its winner with garlands of roses, the Kentucky Oaks picked the Stargazer Lily as its official flower—chosen for its strength and femininity. You should know: the horses racing in the Oaks are 3 year old female horses (fillies). In that vein (and you are welcome to picture horses’ extruding veins, pumping from adrenaline), the Oaks is increasingly known for tipping a hat (so to speak) to women and is the quintessential event for harnessing your
inner princess. Pink and frilly, full of fanciful dresses and ornate hats, the Oaks has a fashion show and incorporates partner charities.
In 2009, The Kentucky Oaks conducted its first PINK OUT, where it claimed pink as the official Oaks’ color and encouraged participants to incorporate pink into their attire. In line with this pink agenda, the Oaks teamed up with local breast cancer initiative Horses and Hope, to donate $1 from every Grey Goose® Oaks Lily sold on Kentucky Oaks Day. This signature cocktail was developed with a goal of creating a more feminine libation that reflected the essence of the hot pink and white-hued stargazer lily. Besides fancy ladies sipping on loud pink drinks, a fragrant garland of stargazer lilies is draped over the shoulders of the filly that claims the victory on Oaks Day.
I am honored to say: this very year the Oaks had its first female jockey winner Rosie Napravnik. In 2011, she had raced in the Kentucky Derby and placed 9th—the best finish for a woman in the history of the Derby—riding Pants on Fire. In 2011 she had placed second in the Kentucky Oaks. But this 2012, she became the first female jockey to win the Oaks and claim the lilies—riding Believe You Can. Ahem: now you know why some of us novices place bets based on horse’s names. Aren’t they wild?
The Oaks Lily
1 oz. Grey Goose® Vodka
1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
3 oz. Cranberry Juice
Splash of Triple Sec
And I can confirm, frilly pink was all the rage: from hats to handkerchiefs, suits to sundresses, sunglasses to stilettos, the Oaks’ guests sported all shades of rose, fuchsia, magenta and melon. It was a site to behold. I went with a soft pink and didn’t even flinch when I bought a cloche (old-fashioned hat) to wear for this ‘day at the races.’ I sipped Lilies, and watched Rosie. And won my first bet… and lost my second bet. It was brilliant and a great day to honor breast cancer survivors, mingle with the locals and curse at my 5 inch heels.
Find my entire Kentucky Derby album on Facebook. Enjoy!