Five Must-Have Items for the 140th Kentucky Oaks

The Kentucky Derby is a world-renowned event. With crowds reaching over 150,000 people and a cavalcade of celebrities descending on Louisville, Derby has become a bit of a production. Derby is one of those events that should be on everyone's Bucket List, but it draws larger crowds than the Super Bowl. That can be fun, but it isn't everyone's cup of tea bourbon.

Here in Louisville, folks know that The Kentucky Oaks has a longtime reputation as The Locals' Race. In recent years, the Friday event, with its signature Grade I stakes race for three year-old fillies, has become a celebration of all things pink. The Stargazer Lily adorns everything from the race's logo to the garland awarded to the winning horse. The race celebrates survivors of breast and ovarian cancer. The race's signature drink -- as Glenda told us last Oaks Day -- is The Oaks Lily. And, you can rest assured, most everybody in Louisville will be at Churchill Downs for Oaks. Louisville schools dismiss for the day and most offices close early. This morning, my barista was even getting into the spirit, pairing a festive pink fascinator with her Starbucks-issued green apron.

In the spirit of all things Oaks, Pink, and Louisville, I've rounded up a few must-have items that commemorate the 140th running of The Kentucky Oaks. 

Louisville Stoneware Oaks Lily Julep Cup

Available in-store only, this gorgeous cup is a beautiful addition to your Stoneware or julep cup collection.

Oaks Lilly Julep Cup from Louisville Stoneware
Rebecca Ray Design Oaks Tote Bag

I love this bag! So springy and fun, with an equestrian twist.

Kentucky Oaks Tote from Rebecca Ray Design
Beau Ties LTD. Kentucky Oaks Bow Tie

Deck your beau out in style!

Kentucky Oaks Bow Tie from Beau Ties Ltd.

Kentucky Oaks Poster and Glass

The Oaks poster and glass are gorgeous this year. I think this poster would be so fun for a guest room or office!
140th Kentucky Oaks Poster

140th Kentucky Oaks Glass

Happy Oaks Day, y'all!

HerKentucky Entertaining: Oaks Style

As the Derby’s companion race for 3-year-old fillies, the Kentucky Oaks has always been about the “ladies.”  However, over the past 138 years since the first running on May 19, 1875, at the Louisville Jockey Club (former name of Churchill Downs), a few tweaks have been made here and there.  For example, the original distance of 1-1/2 miles has been adjusted several times to today’s shorter length of 1-1/8 miles. And, the first Oaks race ran two days after the Kentucky Derby. Today, however, the "Ladies First" theme is both literal and figurative.  

In recent years, new Oaks traditions have emerged. For starters, in 1991, the stargazer lily was selected as the official flower of the Kentucky Oaks for its symbol of femininity and strength. Then, in 2006, in honor of the official flower, the race got its own signature drink, the Oaks Lily. As the Kentucky Oaks began to grow in popularity (attendance has doubled since 2001 to over 100,000 today), the day has blossomed into one of the most popular racing events in the United States.

From the fillies, lilies, drinks, and signature color pink, the Oaks is all about the ladies.  Even better, it’s a party with a purpose. Prior to the race, be sure to turn your eyes to the main track for a moving sight as 139 breast cancer survivors' walk in the Survivors’ Parade. Also, Churchill Downs will donate $1 from each Oaks Lily sold to Horses and Hope.  In 2008, First Lady Jane Beshear founded Horses and Hope with the Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP) to provide breast cancer education, screening and treatment referral for the often overlooked members of Kentucky's horse industry and their families.
Whether you’re going to Churchill or tuning in to watch the spectacular show of pink on television, today is the day to celebrate the special ladies in your life.  Although you will not find me among the masses this year, I will bring the flavor and traditions of the day into my home as I casually entertain a few friends.    
First, you can't go wrong with stargazer lilies. They're fragrant and stunning. I like to mix them with white hydrangeas and simple greenery for a bright pop of hot pink.

Even though we won't be at Churchill, my guests and I will still get to enjoy the signature drink of the day, the Oaks Lily.  This pretty and refreshing cocktail is super easy to make and can be enjoyed throughout the year. 

1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
3 oz. Cranberry Juice
Splash of Triple Sec

Once the ingredients are mixed, place in a glass with ice, and garnish with an orange wedge and a cherry (I added a lime wedge).

I like to serve them in the official Oaks Lily glass.  Not only do these stem-less wine glasses make the experience feel more authentic, but they make a great party favor, too. 

If you’re celebrating this year’s festivities away from Churchill, please consider sending a donation to Horses and Hope.  Tax deductible donations should be made to: 

501 E. Broadway, Suite 160
Louisville, KY 40202

Finally, let's talk about the horses. The fillies today are every bit the match of the boys tomorrow. With three undefeated horses, and a favorite (though twice defeated), Dreaming of Julia, having a "speed figure" (114) that is waaaay above the best any of the boys have ever run (105). For the not-so-serious gamblers, I like to write the names of each filly on a piece of paper for easy entertainment. Guests pay a small amount to play and the winner takes all.  

Now, if I were a betting woman...I'd have a hard time looking past the morning-line (and deserving) favorite, Dreaming of Julia, and co-second-choice, Unlimited Budget, but an equally hard time betting on them at short odds given the top-to-bottom quality of this field (how many undefeated fillies can be in a race, anyway?). Under the circumstances, I'd have to try to make my money in a trifecta by wheeling those two in first and second, with the field in third and hope that a live longshot like Pure Fun rounds out the top three. I might also back this up with an exacta box of those two, Pure Fun, Beholder and Midnight Lucky.  (And, I'm still rooting for Rosie on Seaneen Girl.) But, like I said, that would only be the case if I were a betting woman...

Who are your favorites for the 139th running of the Kentucky Oaks?

P.S. - My daughter, Katherine, will be the new girl at the party this year, and she’s already learning some of our finest traditions. How adorable is her bonnet from The Beaufort Bonnet Company?

{No member of the HerKentucky team received any compensation for this post.}