kentucky derby toronto

The top 5 ways to mark the Kentucky Derby in Toronto

The Kentucky Derby is one of the great days on both the horse racing and cocktail drinking calendars. A southern tradition since 1875, upwards of 165,000 people descend on Churchill Downs for a day of racing and mint juleps. Despite being an American race, one of Canada's great sporting stories, Northern Dancer, is a famous winner (1964), while another Canadian, Mine that Bird, won the Run for the Roses in 2009.

If you can't pop down to see the action unfold in person, here are my top ways to get into the Derby spirit this Saturday in Toronto.

Get a wager on
If you're the gambling sort, then your best bet is to watch the Derby and have a flutter at Turf Lounge. Bay and Adelaide would normally be a dead zone on the weekend, but this is the premier destination for the Derby. With over 60 screens tuned to the race, you won't miss a second of the action.

Go to a Party
Sauce on the Danforth host their annual Kentucky Derby party. Starting at 4pm on Saturday, Sauce will be serving up mint juleps and finger sandwiches to get you in the spirit for the races.

Dress for the occasion
Get yourself a Derby hat from one of Toronto's best milliners, Lilliput Hats. A Toronto institution since 1990, Karyn Gingras' shop has been hand-making stunning hats on-site since day one. With a range of classic and fancy styles, as well as all sorts of fascinators for ladies who would like something in true Derby style. Prices start at $60.

Host a mint julep party
Make mint juleps at home! Pick up supplies from BYOB, including the quintessential julep cup. These copper ones are absolutely stunning, even if they'll set you back a hefty thirty bucks a piece. Still, if you're not the gambling sort, you'll have some extra money in your pocket anyway.

Ride it yourself
If you'd rather replicate the action on the turf than the action in the window, horse riding lessons are available at Sunnybrook Stables. Although classes are normally an eight week affair, individual fifty minute private lessons can be booked for as little as $95 per session. Advanced riders can just straight up lease a horse and try to hoof it to Churchill Downs themselves.

What did I miss? How do you plan on celebrating the Kentucky Derby in Toronto. Let us know in the comments.

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