The 136th Run for the Roses

by Emily Grace

Most people do not know the significance of the first Sunday in May. Tomorrow is the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby. I suppose many people don’t even realize that this is going on, but I was raised in a house where you not only knew what the Run for the Roses was, but you had a plethora of Derby shirts, glasses, and probably thinking about your trifecta box for tomorrow’s race. I cannot wait for the day that I get to be a true spectator at Churchill Downs for the running of the Kentucky Derby.

My grandparents have been frequenters of the Kentucky Derby for years, but living in Florida now, they don’t get to make that trip to watch “the fastest two minutes in sports” as often as they would like anymore. In the cookbook my mother provided us she briefly told us about the lavish Derby parties that have been hosted by our family – mint juleps served in Derby glasses, dozens of red roses decorating the house, a betting table set up so that guests could place their bets on their favorite horses, even a life size horse in front of the house to greet guests (now that’s just crazy talk).

Since the Derby is tomorrow, and I know that my sister will be throwing a party and odds are my parents will be attending one and my grandparents placing bets for each of the granchildren, I thought there’s no better post to make than one to honor Derby Day.

With that being said, I feel as though I should share the recipe to two Derby treats – mint juleps and Derby Pie. Derby Pie wasn’t always served as the parties, but one year, our Grandma called Magnolia Bakery in Ocala, FL to order a Derby Pie.  They said they would be happy to make one if she could get them a recipe, and the one I’m sharing is the one she provided.  I think they should have at least given her the pie free because they have continued to make this pie for other horse racing enthusiasts in Ocala, the “Horse Capital of the World”.

Derby Pie

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
½ tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
9” pie crust

Mix flour and sugar, add eggs and melted butter and mix. Add pecans, chocolate chips, then fold in vanilla.  Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Pie is done when it looks like a crust has formed on top.

Mint Julep


2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon (obviously whatever your favorite is)
8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish

  1. Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves
  2. Fill eight cups or frozen julep goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person’s sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups.

I hope you enjoy the races tomorrow! May your luck be as good as my little sister’s for her long shots always seem to bring her a win.

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One Comment to “The 136th Run for the Roses”

  1. I will be attempting ggma’s derby pie recipe. However I’ve decided to replace the mint julep with a different bourbon based drink since I haven’t met a fan of a mint julep even though it’s derby tradition.

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