Sure Bets for your derby weekend: What to wear, drink and play while horsing around

It’s the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday, May 7th and we have a few suggestions on how to have a winning day––whether you’re sitting in the grandstand at Churchill Downs or hosting a party at home.


If there was ever a time to dress up for a party, this is it. Traditional navy blazers with gold buttons, a colorful plaid shirt paired with navy or khaki twills certainly fit the bill, but so does a pastel-color sport coat or a classic blue-and-white seersucker shirt. Tie on a bow-tie for the look of a true Southern gentleman, and add a straw hat for fun. Dresses and big hats are recommended for ladies.


Set up a buffet of pulled pork sandwiches, ham and biscuits, coleslaw, dill-pickle potato chips and chocolate Derby pie.


Mint juleps, of course! There are many sweet-to-strong recipes for this signature sipper, but one of our favorites requires making a simple syrup the night before with muddled mint and a boiled-down sugar-water.

First, remove the stems and muddle a good deal of mint leaves, saving some for a garnish.

1 cup sugar, 1 cup boiling water. Sit until dissolved.

Pour into a container and refrigerate overnight.

Pour approx. 3 ounces of Kentucky bourbon and 2-3 tablespoons of the simple syrup over crushed or shaved ice.

Serve in a cool cup with a mint leaf and a straw…this is a slow-sipping drink.


Horseshoes for the adults; stick-horse races on lawn for the kids. Award prizes of rose bushes, “extra bets” and julep cups for the adults; mini stuffed or plastic horses and stickers for the kids.

GEARING UP: Get to know the horses in the race, their colors and jockeys. NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage starts at 4 p.m. EST and highlights horses, jockeys, trainers and owners.

HOW TO BET: What’s your wager? We suggest keeping it easy and simply pick the winner, or go for Win/Place/Show. (Place is the horse that comes in first or second, Show is the horse that comes in first, second or third.)

It works well to have each party guest place a random $5 bet, then pick one number out of a hat as their horse. If you can handle more complicated math, have your guests pick their own horse, write it down and divvy up the winnings. With the purse at an estimated two million dollars, it’s a fun to get in on the action.

At last check, Gun Runner had the #1 ranking on the Kentucky Derby’s official leaderboard.

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