Kentucky Derby Day – related books and a mint julep recipe!

Old Bones

If you’ve ever read Old Bones, The Wonder Horse by Mildred Mastin Pace, you’ll know that “Exterminator” (fondly known as “Old Bones”) won the 1918 Kentucky Derby, lived to age 30 and is buried in Binghamton, New York.  Exterminator won the Derby after being purchased as a workout horse for Sun Briar, one of the favorites for the race, who developed ringbone and was unable to compete in the Derby.  After much convincing, owner Willis Sharpe Kilmer entered Exterminator instead.   At 30-1 odds, he came from behind in thick mud and won by a full length.  He went on to win the Saratoga Cup four years in a row (1919-1922) and raced until he was nine years old (99 races).   He was voted Horse of the Year in 1922.  His career record of 33 stakes wins has never been broken by any thoroughbred raced in North America.

Exterminator’s gravestone is in Whispering Pines Pet Cemetery located above Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton, New York.

May 1st is Kentucky Derby Day, the first leg of the famous Triple Crown of horse racing.  Each year on that glorious first Saturday of May, we make it a habit to harvest some mint from our kitchen garden, get out the bourbon whiskey and ice, and make traditional Mint Juleps in the late afternoon as we settle in to watch the horses parade to the starting gate for the “Run for the Roses.”

The Early Times Mint Julep Recipe (Official recipe of Kentucky Derby)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Ahhh, life is good!

To go along with the theme, here are some excellent books about horse racing, (great gifts for thoroughbred racing fans) all of them currently available at Old Scrolls Book Shop:

(To see an image & description of book, click on title)

The Race for the Triple Crown: Horses, High Stakes & Eternal Hope, Drape, Joe

At the Wire – Horse Racing’s Greatest Moments, Bowen, Edward

The Most Glorious Crown:  The Story Of America’s Triple Crown Thoroughbreds From Sir Barton to    Affirmed, Drager, Marvin

Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son, Sullivan, John Jeremiah

Ainslie’s Complete Guide to Thoroughbred Racing, Ainslee, Tom

Extra Sugar for Kelso: True Stories of Saratoga Thoroughbred Racing in the Great Decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Manning, Landon

Three Strides before the Wire – The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing, Mitchell, Elizabeth

The Shoe: Willie Shoemaker’s Illustrated Book of Racing, Shoemaker, Willie & Dan Smith

Saratoga Days –  A Look Inside Racing’s Greatest Meet, Clancy, Sean

Their Turf – America‘s Horsey Set & Its Princely Dynasties, Livingston, Bernard

Ruffian –  Burning from the Start, Schwartz, Jane

Funny Cide, The Funny Cide Team with Sally Jenkins

Seabiscuit – An American Legend, Hillebrand, Laura

Old Bones, The Wonder Horse, Mildred Mastin Pace (written for children)


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