Kentucky Derby Traditions

In honor of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, here are some great quotes about the Kentucky Derby and horse racing:

1. “This is the day for anyone involved with horse. The dream is to win the Kentucky Derby, because there’s nothing like it.”

— Billy Turner, trainer

2. “They must get to the end and go, ‘We were just here. What’s the point of that?'”

— Jerry Seinfeld, on what horses must think after they run a race

3. “No horse can go as fast as the money you bet on him.”

— cartoonist Nate Collier

4. “A place where the windows clean the people.”

— Bob Hope, on his definition of a race track

5. “I’d rather have a bad day at the track than a good day off it, somwhere else.”

— Johnny Nerud, trainer

For more sports quotes, check out Sports Quotation Man by Glenn Liebman.

To get you excited for the upcoming race, go ahead and Sign Up for our 2014 Horse Races contest!!

Kentucky Derby Banner

Click here to enter!

Derby Traditions

The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, since 1875, The Kentucky Derby is the first jewel of the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Triple Crown.”

The Kentucky Derby is a very popular event and each year, people like to partake in various traditional activities.

Garland of Roses 

First established as part of the Derby celebration when they were presented to all the ladies attending a fashionable Louisville Derby party, the Garland of Roses was such a sensation, that the president of Churchill Downs, Col. Lewis Clark, adopted the rose as the race’s official flower.” The rose garland first appeared with Ben Brush (winner in 1896) received a floral arrangement of white and pink roses. The red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904 and is the garland that exists today was introduced in 1932. 

Since 1987, The Kroger Company has been the derby’s official florist and the “ preservation of the garland and crowds of spectators watching its construction are a testament to the prestige and mystique of the garland of roses.”

Photo: Churchill Downs

Learn more about this tradition here: Garland of Roses.

The Twin Spires

“Throughout the world, the Twin Spires are a recognized landmark and have become visual symbols of Churchill Downs and its most famous race, the Kentucky Derby.” The Twin Spires were created in 1895 by Joseph Dominic Baldez.

Although Baldez designed many other structures in Louisville, the Twin Spires remain as an everlasting monument to his memory.”

Photo: Churchill Downs

Photo: Churchill Downs

Learn more about this tradition here: Twin Spires.

My Old Kentucky Home

While the exact history behind when this song first started playing at the Kentucky Derby, now “there is not a more moving moment than when the horses step onto the track for the Kentucky Derby post parade and the band strikes up “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Check out the song for yourself below.

Learn more about this tradition here: My Old Kentucky Home.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century.” For more than 18 years, Early Times Kentucky Whisky has been a honored to be a part of this traditional cocktail. Over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack, almost 120,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are served!

Here is the recipe (Don’t drink and drive) :

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups


Learn more about this tradition here: Mint Julep.

Grey Goose Oaks Lily 

While the Mint Julep is an older tradition, fans were given the opportunity in 2006 to create something new! Now, Kentucky Oaks fans can raise a glass filled with a delicious concoction that is now known as the “Grey Goose® Oaks Lily®,” the official cocktail of the Kentucky Oaks.

Here is the recipe (Don’t drink and drive) :

  • 1 oz. Grey Goose® Vodka
  •  4 oz. Cosmopolitan Mix


Photo: Churchill Downs

Photo: Churchill Downs

Learn more about this tradition here: Grey Goose Oaks Lily.

Derby Events & More

Now that you are familiar with the Kentucky Derby traditions, you are ready to experience some of the events or even host your own watch party!

See Official Derby Events to check out which event you would like to attend.

Find recipes, party tips, fashion advice, and more at Plan Your Own Derby Party.

To get immediate inspiration, watch this “how to” video!


Use download codes KYDB/KYDC  in your Hertz NeverLost device when you rent a Hertz car and have a great time!

-Melissa Woodring 🙂


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