This year’s Kentucky Derby races in on the hooves of Cinco de Mayo–which means you get to wear oversized hats two days in a row and party twice! Can you think of a better way to spend a weekend? (I can’t.)
I’ve been fascinated with the Kentucky Derby since I was a child. My best friend and I would collect our Breyer horses (of course I had a Secretariat), our mothers would serve us tuna salad finger sandwiches and lemonade (I didn’t say we were sophisticated), and we’d sit in front of the TV and choose our winners based on their names or their colors–which, just to note, I had a good four-year winning streak based only on these skills–so I’m just saying.
As an adult, I’m still passionate about horses, but if I’m honest, the Derby really just gives me an excuse to put on some fun clothes, have a party, and wear a fascinator—without too much mocking from my husband. If you don’t already have any Derby plans, I insist you grab your hats (or like me—your favorite fascinator) and your wallets and head on out to these local Kentucky Derby celebrations.
Here are 4 favorites.
18 S. Park Avenue in Rockville Centre
Churchill’s will be hosting their annual Kentucky Derby Party offering up specials like Mint Juleps and Woodford Reserve Bourbon Specials. Their outdoor patio bar will be open so be sure to bring you favorite hat, but no worries if you forget—their patio has a roof. If you’re feeling lucky, you can also place your bets at Churchill’s as they will have several OTB Fast Track Betting Machines (advanced wagers are set to start at noon).
Fun Derby Fact: Over the two-day event of Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, over 120,000 Mint Juleps are served. Historically, this beverage was seen as an elite drink because it required ice, a luxurious commodity in the south, was served in a pure silver cup, and usually required an esteemed servant who had access to the icehouse, the family’s silver and their whiskey.
2. Baron’s Cove
31 West Water Street in Sag Harbor
Baron’s Cove will be hosting their annual Kentucky Derby Party complete with food and cocktail specials from 4:00-7:00 p.m. to celebrate this distinguished event. Ladies and gents can post a pic (or selfie) at the party and in their finest derby attire using #BaronsCoveDerby for a chance to win a $100 Baron’s Cove gift card. Afterwards, head upstairs to their dining room to have a mouthwatering dinner and enjoy stunning views of the harbor. Dinner reservations are recommended.
Fun Derby Fact: Ever since founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. visited the Epsom Derby in England, he was inspired to make this an event as much about fashion as it was about racing and initiated a full morning dress code for high society men and women. However, the popularity of extravagant hats did not really start until the races was televised in the 1960’s – giving ways for women to stand out in the crowds.
3. Glen Cove Mansion
200 Dosoris Lane in Glen Cove
It’s Derby Day at the mansion! If you’ve ever wanted to party like the Crawleys of Downton Abbey, here’s your chance to grab your friends and celebrate the “The Run for the Roses” at the Mansion’s Kentucky Derby Party. Held in Pub 1910, and sponsored by Woodford Reserve, this party will get you in the mood with live Bluegrass music, Mansion Mint Julips, and Special Derby Sandwiches. Admission is free and maybe the best part of this is the Best Dressed Contest–which will of course not only come with a prize, but bragging rights for years to come.
Fun Derby Fact: The red rose didn’t become the official flower of the Kentucky Derby until 1904.
4. B.K. Sweeney’s Uptown Grille
636 Franklin Avenue in Garden City
B.K. Sweeney’s want to spend the “the most exciting two minutes in sports” with you. They’re offering up all the excitement of a fun day at the races like: Nassau OTB at the bar, giveaways, bar specials and of course Mint Juleps and dining on their outdoor patio.
Fun Derby Fact: The original distance of the Kentucky Derby was 1.5 miles but was standardized to its current length of 1.25 miles in 1896. It was changed to 12 furlongs with the belief that it was too taxing for three-year olds to run.