This year the Kentucky Derby is the second jewel of the Triple Crown, and Belmont Stakes victor Tiz the Law will be running to defend his shot at becoming the 14th Triple Crown champion in history. While this year’s Derby will certainly be a little different, it’s still a great time to break out the mint juleps and big hats at home, and enjoy the most exciting two minutes in sports! Here’s everything you need to know about the 2020 running of the Kentucky Derby.
What’s different this year?
The pandemic has thrown many of our routines and schedules out of whack, and the Triple Crown is no different. The Triple Crown series traditionally starts off in May with the Kentucky Derby, progresses to the Preakness, and finishes with the infamously grueling Belmont. That’s all changed this year, as the venues which host these prestigious races put the safety of guests, jockeys, track personnel first. In a wait-and-see approach to the pandemic, Churchill Downs postponed the Derby until September 5th earlier this year. It’s the first time the race has been run outside of May since World War II. Since the decision to postpone the race took effect, stringent safety measures have been implemented, the most noticeable of which is that the Derby, like the Belmont before it, will be run without spectators. Jockeys have also been required to be onsite the entire week prior to the Derby in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, affecting some riders’ schedules and their ability to participate in the Derby or the Oaks. They will also be riding with masks.
Who are the horses to watch?
Everyone will be watching New York-bred Tiz the Law, who won the Belmont this past summer. He’ll be even more favored to win after his recent victory in the Saratoga Travers Stakes on August 8th, which he won by 5 ½ lengths. Tiz the Law won six of his seven starts, making him seem like a very tough horse to beat as he and rider Manuel Franco vie to hold on to their chance to win the Triple Crown. It is, however, worth noting that Tiz the Law’s only loss occurred at Churchill Downs—if you’re the superstitious type, you might want to back one of the other very talented athletes in the race. Bob Baffert’s Authentic won the Haskell this year and has also won four of his five starts, a record not too far beyond Tiz the Law. Honor A.P., trained by John Shireffs, is another hopeful who could shut out Tiz the Law, having won the Santa Anita Derby this year. If Honor A.P does win the Kentucky Derby, he could also help rider Mike Smith, 55, make history as the oldest jockey to win the race.
How in the world do I make a mint julep???
Mint juleps are a Kentucky Derby tradition, and you’ll probably see plenty onscreen on Derby day chilling in the traditional ice-filled silver cups. But you don’t have to be a mixologist (or in possession of fancy silver cups) to make this refreshing cocktail. The official International Bartender’s Association specifies the following ingredients and instructions:
• 2 oz. bourbon (Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Derby, but any Kentucky bourbon will do!)
• 4 mint leaves
• 1 tsp powdered sugar
• 2 tsp water
Muddle the mint, sugar, and water in a highball glass. Fill the glass with cracked ice, add the bourbon, and stir until the glass is well-frosted. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Keep an eye on the Showcase blog for more information about the Triple Crown this year—the Preakness will be here before you know it, and we don’t want you to miss it!