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How to Host a Virtual Kentucky Derby Party This Weekend

Churchill Downs' first spectator-less race.

COURTESY OF COUNTRY LIVING MAGAZINE

Every year since 1946, the first Saturday of May has been dedicated to a beloved horse racing tradition known as The Kentucky Derby. And while the official Run for the Roses was unfortunately rescheduled from its original May date due to the coronavirus, the "first Saturday" tradition will live on this weekend on September 5. This Saturday, fans will be able to tune in to NBC to watch the 146th Kentucky Derby race, which will be held without any spectators at the historic Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. If you're used to participating in a little traditional gambling fun, you can even visit KentuckyDerby.com to place virtual bets on the horses you think will run away with this year's top prize. For additional how-to-watch info, head to the Derby's home page.

In the meantime, there's no better way to prep for an epic at-home celebration than with delicious food and drink recipes! From traditional thumbprint cookies and bourbon cocktails to cute craft and decorating ideas (did someone say vintage trophies?), Here are some ways to celebrate one of the most exciting days in horse racing—no matter where you're watching from. Alright, y'all, we're off to the races!

 

1 Bake Up Derby-Inspired Thumbprint Cookies

Featuring bourbon, homemade caramel, melted chocolate, and toasted walnuts, these butter cookies take inspiration from a famed Kentucky pie.

Get the recipe.

2 Serve a Classic Benedictine Spread

Invented by Louisville caterer and tea room-owner Jennie Carter Benedict, this cream cheese-cucumber dip is a century-old Kentucky classic.

Get the recipe.

3 Place Your Bets

This year, 13 horses will participate in the virtual race. For easy betting, give each guest four of their own color of washi tape–covered clothespins. Let them pick favorites by clipping the pins to the tails of paper prize ribbons. Set a per-bet amount (say, $2), and place cash in a trophy; distribute winnings accordingly. Or, this year, bet on who does household chores, like unloading the dishwasher or folding socks!

Get the Template

4 Fill a Trophy with Fresh-Picked Flowers

Pull out your collection of vintage trophies and fill them with blooms cut from your yard.

5 Set Up a Photo Booth

Smile and say “Eddie Arcaro” (one of the winningest jockeys) with a turf-backed photo booth stocked with props like paper prize ribbons, trophies, riding crops, and hats.

6 Whip Up Bourbon Cocktails

Dust off the punch bowl and stir up a Derby cocktail with bourbon, club soda, orange curacao, sweet vermouth, lime juice, and orange bitters. 

Get the recipe.

7 Dress Up Your Drinks

Trace a bow-tie pattern on craft paper; assemble. Cut a strip from color-coordinated paper, and wrap around glass; tape in place. Tape bow to strip, and let the “tie one on” jokes commence.

GET THE TEMPLATE

8 Make a Horseshoe Wreath

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