The purchasers of this beverage may not simply be people whose brains have been over-dazed by spectacularly gaudy headwear. The proceeds from the julep sales go to an organization that cares for retired racehorses. So it’s money well-spent. Plus it comes with a coupon for 10% off the dry-cleaning of alarmingly multi-colored sport coats upon which the drinks will be spilt.
If you go back far enough in the mists of time, you’ll discover who the heck drove you home after you enjoyed a Derby Day mint julep (because you are of course much too smart to drink and drive). You will also discover that the Kentucky Derby could have been known by a completely different name.
The story goes that the Kentucky race was named after a British competition called The Epsom Derby. This was called a “Derby” because the Earl of Derby, who co-created it, won a coin flip for naming rights with his co-creator – both wished to name it for themselves. This gent was named Sir Charles Bunbury. That coin lands opposite side up, and I’m sitting here in my alarmingly multi-colored sport coat writing about The Kentucky Bunbury.
Speaking of names, did you know that horse-racing regulations require that no race horse can have a name containing more than eighteen letters? This is because names any longer would be cumbersome on racing sheets (also known as tip sheets, racing forms, and, my personal favorite, dope sheets). These publications, as everyone knows, are seen clutched in the hands of racetrack-goers the world over, and make every horse-racing experience more delightful because they contain the complete lyrics and script to “Guys and Dolls.” (“I got the horse right here/His name is Paul Revere. . .”)
When you peruse the names of all the horses that have run The Kentucky Derby, there are some real winners. Including, incidentally, “The Winner.” Which, unfortunately, it wasn’t – it placed 7th in 1896.