Host a Kentucky Derby Party

Posted by Samantha Johnson on Apr 30, 2021 6:30:00 AM
Samantha Johnson

The Derby is more than mint juleps

Like most everything in 2020, last year’s Kentucky Derby—instead of occurring as usual on the first Saturday in May—took place in September without spectators present. 

horse race

This year, it’s back where it belongs—May 1, 2021—and we’re ready to celebrate! You can host a Kentucky Derby party (in person or virtual).  Here are some fun ways to make the Derby more exciting at home. 


Explore the field

There is more to the Derby than celebrating fancy hats and mint juleps. Horses are obviously the most important element, so some advance knowledge of the participants will add to your enjoyment.  Visiting will introduce you to the full field of talented equine athletes. Explore the horses, their accomplishments, their odds, and their connections, then choose your favorites!


Set the stage, plan the menu

The Kentucky Derby is known as the Run for the Roses, and the winning horse is presented with a massive garland of roses. Incorporating roses into your party décor will pay homage to this tradition and add some beauty to your event at the same time. 


Keep your menu simple—just appetizers and beverages (mint juleps are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby; you can also opt for a non-alcoholic version if desired), or plan a more complex menu that emphasizes the Southern dining classics.


Learn the Lingo

Quiz your friends on their knowledge of horse racing terminology!

  • Furlong—220 yards (1/8 mile); the Kentucky Derby is 10 furlongs (1 mile and a quarter)
  • On the board—the top-four finishers
  • Exacta—the first- and second-place finishers
  • Quarter pole—the point where the horses come off the turn and are into the homestretch
  • Trifecta—the first-, second-, and third-place finishers
  • Length – the length of a horse’s body from head to tail, defined as 8 feet
  • Superfecta—the first-, second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers
  • The rail—the fence that runs along the inside of the track

Now get ready to sit back and watch the most exciting two minutes in sports! May the best horse win!

exciting horse race

Abut the author

SAMANTHA JOHNSON writes about the happy things in life—pets, home, family, food, and gardening—and thinks Mondays are the most wonderful day of the week. She fills her rare spare moments by crafting to-do lists and fulfilling the commands and demands of her bossy Corgi. View her portfolio at

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