WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Rita’s Mint Julep Recipe and Some Fun Facts about the Triple Crown

Rita Schimpff has done her homework and brings some fun facts about the Triple Crown to light in this piece. She even includes her own favorite Mint Julep recipe!


Rita Schimpff’s “Bringing the Wild Inside” is sponsored by Heritage Game Mounts.


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(Rita Schimpff photo)

The first Saturday in May is always a harbinger of Spring for me – horse racing and the first leg of the triple crown – the Kentucky Derby.

The race at Churchill Downs is also known as the most exciting 2 minutes in sports, and lovingly referred to as “the run for the roses.”


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(Rita Schimpff photo)


In the winner’s circle, the winning horse of the Kentucky Derby is draped with a blanket of fresh red roses – 554 of them, in fact!

According to its website, in 1883 at a post-Derby party, New York socialite E. Berry Wall presented roses to each lady in attendance. This function caught the eye of one of the guests, Churchill Downs founder and President Col. M. Lewis Clark, and the gesture eventually led to the idea of the rose as the official flower.

The Derby was first run in 1875 and the 1st recorded use of the blanket of roses was in 1896.


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(Rita Schimpff photo)


The next two legs of the Triple Crown are the Preakness, run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., on May 16 (third Saturday in May), and the Belmont Stakes at Jerome Park, N.Y., on Sat., June 6.


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(Rita Schimpff photo)

Each race has its traditions of flowers, music, and signature cocktail … well, sort of.

The Preakness was first run in 1873 and has a winner’s blanket of fresh yellow flowers enhanced to represent the state’s flower, the Black-Eyed Susan, which is also the name of the race’s official cocktail. At post-time the crowd joins the United States Naval Academy Glee Club as they sing the state song, “Maryland, My Maryland”.

Even though the Belmont Stakes is the oldest (1867) of the 3 races, it is not as steeped in tradition as the other 2 are.  It has had 3 official drinks and at least 3 songs. It even tried Jay-Z’s song,  “Empire State of Mind,” in 2010 before going back to 2nd choice “New York, New York.” The tradition of approximately 700 white carnations on the winners green velvet horse blanket has been safe so far, and not only does the winning horse get “blanketed” with this floral extravagance, but also, the Secretariat statue located in Belmont’s paddock gets draped in a similar blanket of flowers.

But back to the first and possibly my favorite race, the Derby. The long standing official song of the Kentucky Derby has been “My Ole Kentucky Home” and should be enjoyed while sipping on a traditional Mint Julep, which has been the featured, traditional beverage of the Derby for almost a century.

Since the Derby has held on to tradition, I think you should have a julep recipe to enjoy!


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Rita’s Mint Julep Recipe
Recipe Type: Beverage
Cuisine: Horsey
Author: Rita Schimpff
Rita Schimpff loves this recipe for Mint Juleps.
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Fresh mint – my favorite flavor to grow is Kentucky Colonel
  • Kentucky bourbon
  • Crushed Ice
  • Julep cup
  1. Make simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for 5 minutes.
  2. Cool and place in covered container, refrigerate overnight.
  3. Construct each julep one at a time: bruise 4 to 5 sprigs of mint in the bottom of the cup or glass.
  4. Fill with crushed ice and add 1 ounce of simple syrup and 2 ounces of Kentucky bourbon.
  5. Stir rapidly to mix and frost cup.
  6. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve with a cloth cocktail napkin.
  7. *Note: some recipes call for steeping fresh mint in the hot simple syrup as it cools, I find this gives the syrup a medicinal flavor and prefer to bruise the mint while fresh.
  • About Rita Schimpff

    Rita Schimpff is an artist and designer who grew up hunting, fishing and enjoying outdoor life in Oklahoma and Texas, thus developing an early love and respect for wildlife and their habitat. She has carried this love to her art and her long involvement with many local and national conservation associations. As a member of the first Junior League San Antonio Mitchell Lake Wetlands Project, she created its logo and illustrated Mitchell Lake Wildlife Refuge: an Illustrated History. A graduate of Texas Christian University with a BFA in Commercial Art and Textile Design, Rita retired after more than 30 years in an interior design field. She launched her Texas based company, Heritage Game Mounts. She creates elegant, Old-World-inspired panels to display domestic and exotic game. She pens a blog called “Bring The Wild Inside” at the site, and at The WON, that offers ways to bring beauty and balance to the shared hunter/non-hunter home. Rita and her husband, Skip, have made hunting and fishing a large priority with their children. Along with two Boykin Spaniels and numerous adopted rescues, all aspects of hunting are very much a family affair. All of Heritage Game Mounts’ products are American made.