The first Saturday in May is a great time to be a Kentuckian and live in Louisville. A week of celebrating builds to a great climax when late Saturday afternoon around 20 beautiful thoroughbred horses fly out of the starting gate at Churchill Downs for the fastest two miles in racing--the Kentucky Derby Run for the Roses.
The Kentucky Derby became known as the Run for the Roses because of this gorgeous blanket of red roses that adorns the winning horse. The blanket is made from 400 Freedom roses. The centerpiece of the blanket contains one perfect rose for each horse in the race.
Here you see Calvin Borel, one of the hardest-working and all around nice, modest jockeys to race in the Kentucky Derby. He's on Street Sense, winner in 2007. That win earned him a trip to the White House and a chance to meet Queen Elizabeth, a great horse fancier, who attended the Derby that year. Calvin also won last year on a surprise dark horse, Mine that Bird. Pretty good for an ole country boy from Louisiana, right? He's racing Saturday, so watch out!
The winner's blanket is designed at my neighborhood Kroger's
Supermarket floral shop. On Friday afternoon several florists set up in the store and work into the night designing the blanket. Shoppers can drift by at any time and watch them working. On Saturday morning the blanket is carefully transported to Churchill Downs and displayed with the Derby cup until it's time for winner's circle ceremony.
But, before the Derby with all it's out-of- towners, celebrities, and in-field madness there's another race on Friday that's considered the hometown event--the Kentucky Oaks. This time the girls take center stage since it's limited to three year old fillies.
The Kentucky Oaks has it's own winner's blanket--"Lilies for the Fillies" Garland . Since this is all about girls racing, you probably wouldn't be surprised that there's a lot of pink going on. In addition to the blanket, if you look over the grandstand crowd, it's a sea of pink--hats and fashion for both women and men. This year's race supports the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer.
The Lilies for the Fillies Garland is also designed at the Kroger's Floral Shoppe on Thursday night before the Friday afternoon race. A 142 Star Fighter Lilies--white with deep magenta throats are nestled in white tulle in individual water vials. Silk magenta ribbons from Switzerland accent the crown of the garland.
Last year the wonderful filly Rachel Alexandra romped her way to a record breaking win and into our hearts. Ridden by--who else--Calvin Borel! She went on to beat the boys in the Preakness. Got herself a cover of Vogue Magazine and title of Horse of the Year as well. You go girl!
No floral post about horse racing would be complete without some mention of Derby and Oaks hats. They are flowery fantasies where more is always more. Derby costumes are planned around the hat, like this lovely which is probably going to be seen at the Oaks. Now, I won't be at the races, but I'll keep up with all the glamour and sport on TV. If you're betting, hope your horse wins!
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