My favorite spring sporting event has to be the Kentucky Derby. What stands out most during this historic horse race is difficult to decide–the sleek and athletic thoroughbreds, the diminutive yet wiry jockeys in their colorful silks, the thrill of the race itself or the chance for a long-shot filly to come from behind and win the garland of roses. 
Honestly, I love the pageantry of the entire event, but who am I trying to fool? For me it’s all about two things—the hat and the mint julep. They call it the “fastest two minutes in sports.” So much eye candy stimuli and so little time! Fortunately for us the pageantry and parties last all day and into the night. The Derby is as much about fashion as it is about horse racing. Tune in Saturday, May 7th, and you’ll see. Dresses rule—from fancy to frilly to floral to neutral—as do high heels and seersucker suits.  According to the official Kentucky Derby website, attendees spend as much time and money on their race-day threads as they do at the betting window—maybe even more! 
Whether you’re headed to Churchill Downs or just down the street for a neighborhood soiree, I’ve got a few ideas to share. Remember that hat I told you to dust off for the royal wedding? Well here’s your chance to add some fresh flowers or trendy feathers and break it out yet again. Guys, got any seersucker in the closet? (Every man who lives in the south should.) Too much of a stretch?  How about a Vineyard Vines tie, bowtie or belt? Break it out.  (Vineyard Vines is the official style of the Derby according to the Kentucky Derby website.)
Want to be the hostess with the mostest or the guest who always gets asked back to the annual Derby Party? Serve or bring some warm country ham and biscuits laced with brown sugar and butter—definite crowd pleaser. Here’s a fancy themed appetizer idea. Create a Derby Cheese Hat with a large brie round on a serving platter topped with a round of garlic and herb Boursin cheese (fancy cheese section at Harris Teeter). Wrap a ribbon at the base of the Boursin and garnish with an herb bouquet of fresh lavender, thyme sprigs or mint. (Serve with crackers and precut veggies.) Fast and easy. Now for my all-time favorite drink–the mint julep.  First make a simple syrup.  It’s easy. If you can boil water you can make simple syrup. Bring two cups sugar (I use Splenda in the big bag to cut calories) and two cups water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add a package (1-oz.) of fresh torn mint and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl or jar.  Now you’ve got your simple syrup.  Fill a julep cup or rocks glass with crushed ice and pour equal parts mint simple syrup and your favorite bourbon. (Splash of club soda is optional.) Garnishing with mint is a must. Enjoy!
Let the “Run for the Roses” begin and don’t forget—it’s all about the hat!
Those are my Derby thoughts. What are yours? Talk Derby to me with your comments.