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Just in time for the 144th Kentucky Derby, we share with you some history, interesting facts, and a recipe of the unique event and its official drink, the mint julep!
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, and typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continuously held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
The Kentucky Derby’s long history began in 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark – of the famed pair Lewis and Clark – traveled to Europe. While there, Clark attended the Epsom Derby in England, a well-known horse race run since 1780, and also fraternized with the French Jockey Club, a group that developed another popular horse race, the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps. Clark was inspired by his travels and experiences, and, upon his return, was determined to create a spectacle horse racing event in the States. With the help of his uncle’s John & Henry Churchill, who gifted Clark the necessary land to develop a racetrack, and by formally organizing a group of local race fans to be named the Louisville Jockey Club, Clark and his new club raised funds to build a permanent racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. On May 17th, 1875, the racetrack opened its gates and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the very first Kentucky Derby. A total of fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbred horses raced one and a half miles in front of a cheering crowd of approximately 10,000 spectators. Aristides was the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.
20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby, which is a larger field size than most horse races; where on average 8 horses race against one another. The 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby must first travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million.
- The youngest jockey to win the esteemed race, Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, was just 15 come derby day in 1892
- Bill Shoemaker continues to hold the title as the oldest winner; he was 54 when he took home the 1986 title (He has also ridden the most Kentucky Derby horses (26) in history)
- The Derby is also referred to as ‘The Run for the Roses’ because the winner is awarded a 40lbs blanket sewn with over 400 roses post-race
- Over $150 million in wagers have been placed over the last several Kentucky Derby races.
- Horses must be 3 years or younger in order to compete
- 19 past winners have had names beginning with the letter “S,” including Secretariat, the fastest horse in Kentucky Derby history, who completed the 1973 race in just under two minutes
- The amount of food consumed at the Derby is pretty astounding. On average, spectators will eat 142,000 hot dogs, 18,000 barbecue sandwiches, 13,800 pounds of beef, 32,400 jumbo shrimp, 9,000 scallops, 8,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 cookies and 300,000 strawberries.
- On Derby Day the infield will hold around 80,000 revelers, making it Kentucky’s third-largest city, behind Lexington + Louisville
- The 1¼-mile distance has been standard since 1896 (The first 21 were contested at 1½ miles)
- Fourteen female trainers have competed, with Shelley Riley coming closest to winning!
- Thousands of elegantly dressed women will grace Churchill Downs on Saturday - specifically with really colorful, large hats!
- Southern hospitality surrenders shamelessly to greed on Derby weekend, when you can pay at least $300 a night for a Louisville motel room that costs $55 any other time
- It became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1983!
- Traditionally, mint juleps were often served in silver or pewter cups + held only by the bottom and top edges of the cup (This allows frost to form on the outside of the cup)
- The term “julep” is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.
- The first appearance of a mint julep in print came in a book by John Davis published in London in 1803, where it was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”
- May 30th is National Mint Julep Day
- It takes 7,800 liters of bourbon and 2,250 pounds of locally grown mint to make the 120,000 Mint Juleps sold at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby weekend
- The first Juleps didn’t include bourbon or mint - just rum, water + sugar
- Around 1800, mint slipped into the equation. Many antebellum Juleps were made with cognac or other French brandies
- Juleps and similar libations were called antifogmatics + were often consumed in the morning
- President Theodore Roosevelt loved mint juleps and used them as an enticement to get his various cabinet members to play tennis with him!
Mint Julep Ingredients:
- 1 ½ Tsp. Sugar
- 10 Mint leaves (or more if you love it!)
- Crushed Ice
- 2oz. Kentucky Bourbon (Old Forester is the official whiskey of the Kentucky Derby!)
- Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a pewter cup (or old-fashioned glass) + top with the sugar
- Muddle these together until the leaves begin to break down
- Add a splash of seltzer water - this is optional, depending on how strong of a drink you would like!
- Fill the glass ¾ full with crushed ice + add the bourbon
- Top with another splash of seltzer, stir, + garnish with a sprig of mint!
- Serve immediately + enjoy the Derby!
Annapolis is the capital of Maryland located right on the Chesapeake Bay
This quaint city is known for history, sailing + lots of crabs!
Thanks to our traveler’s Allison + Jared for sharing these beautiful shots!
You scream, I scream, we all scream…for Pizza!
This bar (Spirit in Lawrenceville) in Pittsburgh sure knows how to grab our attention!
Q: Why did you sign up for your trip? What were you looking to get out of it?
A: We were looking for a 3-day getaway where we didn’t have to do any of the planning! We both travel for work + to see our families, so we wanted a weekend away where we didn’t have to worry about the planning! With our 1 year wedding anniversary coming up, we thought this would be the perfect “paper” gift!
Q: Did you have hesitations about taking a surprise trip? Were you nervous?
A: Having a Type A personality, and doing so much planning I was anxious about the trip. It was a good learning experience for me to let it go and know that someone else could handle everything for me. Lillian + her team did a fantastic job with communication and updates so I was not worried. It was just hard to not be in control ;)
Q: Where did you guess you were going to travel? Were you surprised by the destination?
A: We guesses the southeast area of the country. We were totally surprised to hear we were going to San Francisco!! (Although a co-worker of my guessed right). Neither of us had been to California so we were very excited!
Q: What made the trip feel unique and tailored to you?
A: Having the maps + recommended agenda/itinerary available in paper and electronic forms was great!! Having it on paper allowed us to learn a bit about the city while flying. Having it all electronically allowed us to check things while we were exploring!
Q: What was your favorite experience that we recommended for you?
A: My husband is a big tea drinker so he LOVED the Japanese Tea garden. I very much enjoyed it as well. My favorite was the Golden Gate Bridge and Painted Ladies. We actually took a boat tour around the bridge + Alcatraz which was fantastic! We try to do boat tours when we visit new cities.
Q: What did you like most about your travel accommodations?
A: Centrally located! We could walk almost anywhere. And when we were tired of walking, Lyft + Uber were available to help us out.
Q: What did you discover on your own (not on your itinerary) in your destination that you feel is shareworthy?
A: Corny as it is, I was dying to see the “Full House” House. We found it, took a few pics + helped other tourists do the same!! From there, we walked to Lombard Street, which was quite a bit harder than it looked, but totally worth it!
Q: What was your favorite part of your trip?
A: The whole experience!! From the suspense of not knowing where we were going, to having travel + lodging taken care of, to fantastic food and sites. We saw SO MUCH in our short amount of time in San Francisco. With the maps and suggestions provided, we were able to plan a jammed pack trip while still finding time to relax and take it in. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. In our vows we promised “to go on adventures with one another” and when we heard of Pack Up + Go we thought this would be the PERFECT way to do that!
Q: If you could do the trip over again what would you do differently?
A: Make dinner reservations at restaurants.
Q: How would you describe Pack Up + Go and your experience to Family + Friends?
A: I have described it to our families, friends, and co-workers as a must try experience! It is a lot to process, especially if you are controlling, but well worth the experience!! The thrill alone is incredible! And then the ease of navigating makes it simple to jump right in and explore.
Q: What did you learn on your trip, or from your trip?
A: That we want to continue to explore other cities!
Q: What would you say to someone who is hesitant to go on a surprise getaway?
A: Give it a try! Well worth the investment + adventure. You will have memories that will last a lifetime!
Celebrate love, life and adventure like Ashley + Benjamin!
Give your Valentine “memories that will last a lifetime” with a stress-free, mystery vacation: http://bit.ly/SurpriseForYourSweetheart_2018
It’s Superbowl Sunday!
Today many fans across the country will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the defending champs, the Patriots!
For those of you going to the Big Game in Minneapolis, we don’t think you’ll have quite the same weather as Todd + Brandy, but try to have as much fun!
Corinne shares some of the reasons why you should give yourself the joy of stress - free travel this year for increased health, happiness + more!
Written by Corinne Hogge
Your Monday Motivation comes from Kody + Lindsey who showed how fun having many different interests can be!
From exploring the city to a baseball game, the aquarium + hiking, this couple knows how to really get to know a city!
What is your favorite activity to seek out in a new place?
We love eating unique foods, going to Vintage shops + stopping in art museums! 🍽️👒🏛️
Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to the men + women whose service has allowed us to experience the freedom + wonder of travel.
In honor of this day of remembrance, we share these inspiring photos from our travelers’, Amber + David, recent trip to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington D.C.
Did You Know that St. Petersburg, Flordia ranks #1 as America’s Arts Destination for mid-sized cities!
The Southern cultural hub offers wonders like the Salvador Dali Museum, a Chihuly glass Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts + many more!
Where will your next artful escape be? http://bit.ly/ArtSP17
We plan 3-day trips around the United States. The catch? Your destination is a surprise. Curious? Intrigued? Here’s how it works.