At the Kentucky Derby, horses and fashion flare
At the Kentucky Derby, the tradition is just as much about atmosphere as it is about the contest itself. Among spectators, the bourbon mint julep is the thirst-quencher of choice, cooling bellies full of burgoo— a thick, hot beef, chicken, pork and vegetable stew that’s locally popular.
The Kentucky sun glares down over the sea of elaborate ladies’ hats decorating the infield.
And then there are the horses.
They parade before the grandstands to the tune of “My Old Kentucky Home,” played by the University of Louisville Marching Band.
American Pharoah’s polished brown coat glittered across the finish line as the thoroughbred and his jockey, Victor Espinoza, outran 16 other horses to take the coveted blanket of roses at the 141st running of the race. He completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:03.02.
With Saturday’s victory before a record-breaking crowd of 170,513 in Louisville, Kentucky, American Pharoah became the third straight favorite to win the Derby and a hopeful for the Triple Crown, which has not had a winner since 1978.
The race—also known as The Run for the Roses—is considered America’s biggest, and is often referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, and is followed by the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, in two weeks, and the June 6 Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York.
The Kentucky Derby is the only race of the three that has been run every consecutive year since 1875. The lush rose blanket awarded to the winner is made of 554 red roses—the race’s official flower.
Pictured above are scenes from Saturday’s spectacle at Derbytown, photographed by Nils Ericson.