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Traditions of the Preakness Stakes

Traditions of the Belmont Stakes

Traditions at the Kentucky Derby

May 5, 2001
Date of Inception The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continually held sporting event in the U.S., started in 1875.
Flowers Rose:
The floral arrangement for the Kentucky Derby winner has been called a wreath, a blanket, and a garland since the first presentation in the 1890s.

It uses 500 of the darkest red roses and greenery stitched on a cloth-backed blanket.

It was in 1925 that the late Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, dubbed the race the "RUN FOR THE ROSES." Corum later served as president of Churchill Downs from 1950-1958.
Theme Song "My Old Kentucky Home"
Fashion Derby Day:
There are a variety of fashion statements made at the Derby, the most prevalent being the hats. People go for the most elegant look possible or design their own. There is no formal contest involved - it is all about the show!
Beverages Mint Julep:
For nearly a century, the mint julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. Fill a chilled julep cup with finely crushed ice; pour in half a tablespoon of mint-flavored syrup and 2 ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whiskey.
Color Painting Artist's Interpretation:
Each year Churchill Downs selects an artist to paint an interpretation of the Kentucky Derby. Paintings in past years have captured the charm and nostalgia of the day, including the twin spires or the horses running the first turn. A print series of the painting is sold throughout the event and replicated on t-shirts and souvenirs.
Parties The Infield:
Since the first running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875, the infield has served as one of the havens for reckless fun. Tunnels were constructed under the track in 1937 to provide better patron access to the infield Kentucky Derby.
How It Was Named Kentucky Derby:
Colonel Lewis Clark visited England in 1872 and decided to model the Kentucky Derby after the great classic race of England, known as the Epsom Derby. In 1875, Louisville became the "home of the Kentucky Derby." It was developed to showcase Kentucky's breeding history.
Special Tradition Kentucky Derby Festival:
More recent fan fare surrounding the Derby includes a hot air balloon race, parade, and steamboat race on the Ohio River. The steamboat race is held between two boats -the Delta Queen and the Belle of Louisville. The winner receives a plaque titled "the Golden Antlers Award."
The Track Churchill Downs:
Construction of the grandstand and Twin Spires began in the early fall of 1894 and continued until the start of winter weather precluded further work. The spires, which have been referred to as towers, cupolas, and even steeples in the past, stand atop the 1895 grandstand that now serves as the core of the sprawling 48,500-seat complex, stretching from the top of the homestretch to around the clubhouse turn.
Trophy The Derby Trophy:
Last year, for the 125th running of the Kentucky Derby, a new trophy was unveiled. The horseshoe trophy was turned upside down so that "luck does not run out." There will be diamonds inside the horseshoe along with a bed of roses made of rubies.