Edibles & Potables: “Making Bets on Kentucky Derby Day”

In the strictest of senses, this song by The Rolling Stones isn’t about the Kentucky Derby. However, to me — and perhaps for you — “Dead Flowers” is the only imaginable soundtrack each year, far transcending “My Old Kentucky Home,” which has not worn particularly well in modern times.

By extension, the most relevant observations about the Derby to be made in writing were recorded more than a half-century ago by a native Louisvillian, who concluded that the event hasn’t ever been exactly as it appears.

Which is to say that Hunter S. Thompson had arrived.

(Ralph) Steadman wanted to see some Kentucky Colonels, but he wasn’t sure what they looked like. I told him to go back to the clubhouse men’s rooms and look for men in white linen suits vomiting in the urinals. “They’ll usually have large brown whiskey stains on the fronts of their suits,” I said. “But watch the shoes, that’s the tip-off. Most of them manage to avoid vomiting on their own clothes, but they never miss their shoes.”

Thompson grasped the Kentucky Derby better than most, and his 1970 account “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved”...Read more