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Let’s lift a toast to the world of racing…to the jockeys, owners, trainers, fans, and of course the beautiful Thoroughbred horses that have qualified to run in

The Triple Crown.

A toast can be anything from water to wine, but each race of the Triple Crown has its own specialty drink that has been enjoyed during all the years of these races. As a writer, you may want to use these traditional drinks, songs and flowers to add a bit of fun in your horseracing stories as a character sensory detail.

Dawn your hat, smell the thick scent of roses, hear voices  singing “My Old Kentucky Home” and lift your Mint Julep to the Kentucky Derby.  Here’s the recipe for this traditional drink: 

The Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
2 C Sugar
2 C water
6-8 sprigs of fresh mint
crushed ice
Kentucky Whisky as Maker Mark or Early Times
Silver Julep cup
Make a syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool in covered container with 6-8 sprigs of fresh mint and refrigerate overnight. Fill a julep cup with crushed ice, add one  tablespoon mint syrup and 2 oz of whisky. Stir rapidly to frost cup and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

(Approximately 120,000 mint julep are served on Derby day, using 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep cocktail, 1000 pounds of fresh mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.)

The Preakness, the second race of the Triple Crown, has the fragrant summer flower, the  Black-eyed Susans, even though they aren’t blooming at the time of this race.  Spectators sing “Maryland My Maryland” and lift this traditional drink. Here’s its recipe:

Preakness- Black-eyed Susan Cocktail
3/4 C orange juice
1/2 C pineapple juice
3T vodka
3T light rum
2T orange liquor as Gran Marnier

Crushed ice

Garnish with lime slices and/or fresh cherries

Stir together first five ingredients. Fill 2 (12 oz)  glasses with crushed ice. Pour orange juice mixture over ice and garnish. 


Now, to the Test of Champions- the longest and most difficult of the three races- The Belmont Race. This final race of the Triple Crown has the  the sweet-scented flower of the Carnation for ‘love and luck’. If the favored horse has won the two previous races, heart and voices lift to sing ‘New York New York’ and then toast with  The Belmont Breeze. Here’s the recipe for:

 The Belmont Breeze

1 1/2 oz Kentucky Bourbon or American blended whiskey or 3/4 oz of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry

1/2 ox fresh lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

1/ 1/2 oz fresh orange juice

1 1/2 oz of cranberry juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and top with half 7-Up and half soda, approx 1 oz of each. Garnish with strawberry, mint sprig, and lemon piece.

So, when you are enjoying these races or using them in your stories remember, a toast is always more from the heart more than the glass.  But a beautiful moment is always created.