De Florias at The Derby!

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The styles of the Kentucky Derby. (Source: Lina De Florias) The styles of the Kentucky Derby. (Source: Lina De Florias)
Derby Day hat covers. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Derby Day hat covers. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
How did that horse get in the picture of my Derby hat? (Source: 3TV/CBs 5 News) How did that horse get in the picture of my Derby hat? (Source: 3TV/CBs 5 News)
Fashion at the Derby is a must! (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Fashion at the Derby is a must! (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)

By Lina De Florias


The Kentucky Derby has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to be a part of the 144-year tradition, complete with hats, grandeur and Mint Julips. Little known fact: Derby Day also includes a horse race!

If you ever find yourself in Louisville for the races, here’s a quick look at six things I learned at my first Derby:

There are no "I's" in Louisville!

Locals pronounce it lul-vul. Why? Because they’re locals and you have to respect it. I mean, why do we pronounce Prescott PRESS-kit? Because that’s how you say it, that’s why!

Your Hat Isn't Big Enough!

Several first-timers I chatted with thought they might be overdoing it with their hats. I, too, wondered if my hat was a little “too much”. I had white Roses, various shades of blue Hydrangeas, white Freesias, gradient Buttercups, pearl Baby’s-breath, crystal Baby’s breath, Swarovski crystals and an estimated four pounds of hot glue affixed to my chapeau. The moment I arrived, I realized, I didn’t go big enough!

Fascinators are fascinating! 

My body hurts. Was it all the walking? The standing? The excessive Mint Julips? Nay. (Get it, nay? #HorseHumor) It was the head gear. Sure, they are fabulous and I felt great in them, but they’re heavy. They’re awkward. You hit strangers with them left and right. No one can see you under it. You can’t see anyone not under it. If I had to do it again, and I hope I do, I’m Team Fascinator all the way!

Lillies are not Tulips... er... Julips!

And The Oaks is not The Derby. Being from the West Coast, I confess, I only knew Derby day. I didn’t realize Friday before the Derby was another huge opportunity to mingle with fabulous, fun people. The Oaks only runs female horses. It’s affectionately called, “Lilies for the Fillies” as the Derby is nicknamed, “Run for the Roses”. The world-famous Mint Julip is the drink of The Derby, but on Oaks Day, the drink of choice is The Oaks Lilly. What’s in it? Happiness. Combined with vodka, lemonade, cranberry juice and Triple Sec!

Bring a real camera!

There are infinite photo opportunities, but most of them are ruined by terrible lighting. The people who were turning out Instagram-worthy pics all seemed to be rocking real cameras.

Rain or shine, we Derby!

As you probably heard, Saturday’s race was the wettest Derby ever. Ever. We’re talking 144 years here. I foolishly asked my host/friend, Amber Powell, if people just gave up and stayed home since Derby Day is often accompanied by rain. Her answer was a laugh-filled, “That’s Derby, baby!” The race is in Louisville and it’s in May. Everyone, save me, knows it will more than likely rain and it is what it is. More than a few more-seasoned ladies were ready with galoshes and plastic hat covers. I envied them the entire day.

There is a lot to love in Louisville. The people, the culture, the fried-green tomatoes; the list goes on and on. But here were my Fave 3:

1.  The Pimento Cheese

2.  The Pimento Cheese at Mesh

3.  The Pimento Cheese at Amber’s house

Oh!...And Pimento Cheese!

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