LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The annual $1,000 mint julep fundraiser at the Kentucky Derby is looking back at the very first runnings of the roses during a time when Black jockeys were prevalent. The fundraiser aims to bring light to the erased history by donating all proceeds to the Project to Preserve African-American Turf History.
Tuesday morning, Brown-Forman, Churchill Downs and Woodford Reserve unveiled this year's $1,000 mint julep officially named the "Cherries and Cream Julep." The reason for the name and recipe date back to the mid-19th Century.
"This year we're honored to celebrate the black jockeys who were early winners of the Kentucky Derby, and who, who elevated the sport to great heights in the late 1800s and early 1900s," said Tracey Johnson, Woodford Reserve's vice president and director of global branding.
The first Kentucky Derby was in 1875. Oliver Lewis, a Black jockey, rode the winning horse. During the first 28 runnings of the roses, 15 of those races were won by Black jockeys, but history blotted out those details.
"These athletes played a very important role in horse racing, but many people didn't know their story, and that's because their stories were erased by segregation and racism in the industry and at the track," said Johnson. "Despite the injustices and the inequities that these young jockeys like Isaac Murphy and Jimmy Winkfield faced, they all exemplified a love for the sport, the pursuit of excellence, and the perseverance that it takes to be a Kentucky Derby winner. And the time to celebrate their accomplishments is long overdue."
Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris explained how they chose the "Cherries and Cream" theme.
"We thought, 'What better way to celebrate the black jockeys than to look at the menus of the dinners that celebrated their, their wins their championships in the middle of the late 19th century?'" said Morris. "We went to the Pendennis Club to Churchill Downs, and other venues in Louisville and looked at dinner menus from that time period. And one thing they seem to have in common, they were eating a lot of cherries and cream as a dessert."
The Woodford Reserve Cherries and Cream Julep recipe includes:
- 2 oz Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 0.5 oz Cherry juice
- Half a vanilla bean pod (Cut into small segments)
- 1 tsp of powdered sugar
- Served over crushed ice
- Mint sprig, cherry, and vanilla bean pod for garnish
These special juleps will be sold for $1,000 on Derby day at Churchill Downs. The lucky beneficiary, PPAATH, was chosen based on their mission.
"We looked at the educational opportunities, obviously, with the stories that we felt would resonate across the country and really inspire current and future generations," PPAATH CEO and Founder Leon Nichols said. "So, for us, it was all about driving an inclusive message within the thoroughbred racing industry and we thought, you know what better sport to really drive that message than thoroughbred racing because as we know the foundation of the sport was really built on diversity and inclusion."
To learn more about the 2021 $1,000 Julep or purchase the limited edition julep cups, click here.