Do you hear the sounds?
The bugler is announcing the race is about to start…
And a Tenor is singing “My Old Kentucky Home”….and the crowd is mingling about the stables and there are ladies everywhere in small hats, large hats and finery that one would normally not associate with horse barn smells, new mown hay and shall we say…..well, lets just say “those smells”.
But wait, let me be the first to tell you that I love the smell of horses…we have raised horses and shown horses at County fairs and we have had breeding programs. None of the fine thoroughbred Kentucky racing horses, but what most Midwesterners call Western Pleasure Horses. I’ve been stepped on by large hooves, I have been shoved into a corner of a stall by the unintentional movements of a large 1,000 pound beautiful animal….or it could have been intentional because horses are very smart. And I loved every moment of raising horses on our ranch in New Mexico and in Kansas.
But we are talking about horse racing today…the finest breed of horses racing around an oval track, colorful jockey’s urging them on as the galloping hooves fling mud and dirt everywhere, hoping to be the horse in the winner’s circle covered with a large blanket of red roses at the end of the short race.
Yes, I confess that I do bet on the race. Well, if you call using play money or sometimes the Captain and I make a wager of picking up the tab at dinner. No serious money.
Yes, I have been to Churchill Downs where the annual race is held. It has gone through a few changes over the years.
It is like many famous landmarks, nestled in among convenience stores, old motels, pawn shops, a college football stadium and strip malls in Louisville, Kentucky.
With all the Kentucky splendor of men in top hats and striped suits and the ladies equally adorned mingling about on the greenest grass in the state of Kentucky….the familiar White-House looking buildings with the notable two spires reaching high in the sky is like many other landmarks.
When we see these landmarks on television, we imagine they are out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but rolling green pastures of white fences and horses everywhere. Not so.
BUT… if you face Churchill Downs and not look at what is on the other side of the street, it is indeed a sight to see.
I will never forget my visit to the Pyramids when the Captain and I went on our honeymoon to Africa, …Egypt in particular. The Captain wanted to take my picture by the huge Sphinx lion statute that guards the front of the Pyramids. As the Captain focused his camera, while I stood there smiling….I looked over his shoulder to the buildings across the street from the Pyramids and started laughing. He asked what was so funny and I said. “Look, there is a Pizza Hut and a McDonalds!” (I mean, come on….one of the 7 Wonders of the World and fast food joints so close.) I really don’t think I could sit and eat pizza and stare at the Pyramids…I mean, it just ain’t right! 🙂
But today, I am going to give you a tip on the winner of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
You see, I have a formula and if you won’t tell anyone, I will share it with you.
As I have said, I have raised horses and although I love all the beautiful colors of horses, from palominos, to chestnuts, to paints…(I could go on and on)…my favorite horse is a gray horse.
There is something about that beautiful dappled color that stands out among all the other horses. I always bet on the gray. Not because of any breeding or even the number of races won. I just love the striking gray color.
And I am not the only one…
“I’m rooting for the gray horse!” It’s a phrase you inevitably hear when you visit the track. Since they aren’t as common as bays or chestnuts, gray horses certainly have a way of catching people’s eye.
In the 2016 Kentucky Derby, four gray horses will have their chance to end up in the winner’s circle. Seriously, I believe that if you were to go around the stables and race track on Saturday and randomly ask people which horse they hope to see win, I think you would hear answers of Mohaymen, Creator, Lani, and Destin…. simply because they are “the gray horse.” I read an interesting comment: “With a full 20 horse field, there is a 20% chance the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner will be gray. Eight in total have won the Kentucky Derby, and the last one to do so was 11 years ago.” So, my dear readers… it is time for a gray to win again.
Trust me. 😉
Now, if there are two grays, and this year there are 4 gray horses, which is a bit unusual for derby races…. here comes the next strategy….I pick the prettiest gray horse with jockey colors of any shade of green. (The Captain’s and my wedding colors were lime green and white, with a bit of black) All scientific here folks.
So who have I picked as a winner? The number 6 Horse…”Creator” of course!!!!! I love that name. He is a beautiful animal….but, there are 3 more gray horses! Take your pick and hopefully, you will pick a winner.
Perhaps you will choose the favorite with the best odds of winning the Run for the Roses.
This sport is probably the most watched because it does not require an investment of your time. It is not called “the most exciting two minutes in sports” for nothing. After all, it has the attention span of a gnat. (not that I know how long the attention span of a gnat is…just imaginin’)
And more importantly…what about the food? Yummers on the lighter version of a Hot Brown and a Kentucky Derby would not be complete without a mint julep, now would it? This Hot Brown uses turkey only and can be served open face or topped with the other half of the mini bagel. You can also add deli ham…use your imagination. 😉
I have made both recipes in the past, but because the Captain and I will be celebrating Mother’s Day week-end away from home…I will not be wearing an apron or a floppy hat on Saturday, Derby Day.
Below are two printable recipes that are sure to please anyone…for at least the two minutes duration of the race, that is. 😉
Have a great day.
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups of water
- 8 fresh mint sprigs
- good bourbon of your choice
- Mint leaves for garnish
- Make a Simple Syrup by placing water and sugar in a saucepan and boil for about five minutes making sure the sugar has completely dissolved. (By the way, Simple Syrup can remain in your pantry in a tightly covered jar for a few weeks and can be used in cinnamon roll icing, etc)
- Cool the mixture and pour into a container such as a mason jar or mayo jar along with the mint sprigs. Replace the lid and place in the fridge overnight.
- Fill the glass with crushed ice and add about 1 tablespoon of the Minted Simple Syrup and about 2 ounces of the bourbon and stir (more or less bourbon as desired after tasting)
- Add a pretty little sprig of fresh mint and serve.
- Any mint will do...I usually have a pot of peppermint in my herb garden as it is a profuse grower and will spread all over your yard if you do not keep it contained.But it smells so good in your garden that I highly recommend planting some in a pot.
- 2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black Pepper to taste
- *5 mini whole wheat bagels, separated into halves and toasted
- 1/2 pound sliced smoked turkey
- 10 slices of plum tomatoes (about 3)
- Smoked or hot paprika for garnish
- **5 slices of cooked crisp bacon (Optional! Optional! Optional!)
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat and whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute....you don't want a flour taste so make sure the flour is cooked.
- Add milk and bring mixture to a boil whisking until thickened (about 3 minutes)
- Add in the cheese and allow the cheese to completely melt into the sauce (this is similar to a mornay sauce)
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and set the sauce aside
- Toast the mini bagels under a broiler or toaster and place the bottoms into a baking dish cut side up
- Place turkey slices and tomatoes on the cut sides and add some of the cheese sauce
- Place the tops on top of the sauced bagels and broil until browned and bubbling (about 5 minutes)
- Just before serving....add about a tablespoon of sauce to the top and sprinkle with paprika
- *You can use English muffins or any type of dinner roll...Hawaiian sweet rolls are very good but have a few more calories than whole wheat bagels. Just sayin'
- **As long as we are talking a variation here, you can take a half slice of cooked bacon and criss cross the top of your hot brown after adding the last spoon of sauce. Not forcing you here...but if you want to be daring and not worry about calories.