Fast Ponies, Mint Juleps, and Large Hats

Find your SoCal spot and cheer on the horses of the Kentucky Derby.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Wednesday, May 1, 2013  |  Updated 6:36 PM PDT
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Fast Ponies, Mint Juleps, and Large Hats

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Got your big hat? The spectators in Louisville, Kentucky always do. Find your Mint Julep-sipping spot here in Southern California. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Call it the toniest two minutes of the horse buff's year.

Okay, maybe two minutes and a couple of seconds is the more accurate sum-up of how long it takes a superstar pony and jockey to complete the Kentucky Derby. It's one of the over-the-quickest events on the major sport spectating calendar, which means that the run-up to the race must fill the time.

And fill the time it does. People don elaborate and sometimes outlandish hats and drink mint juleps and hobnob. Is there a bigger event for hobnobbing on the race calendar? We say there is not.

Should you not be able to make Churchill Downs this year, you can still wear your chapeau and drink icy, pow-packing drinks. Here are some Southern California spots and-they're-off-ing on Saturday, May 4.

Santa Anita Park: The horsey excitement is particularly high in Arcadia come Kentucky Derby Day, and the Frontrunner has got a buffet on. Isn't that part of the first Saturday in May? Snacking, sipping, talking stats, snacking some more?

Tom Bergin's: Bulleit Bourbon Pecan Pie is on the Fairfax pub's menu -- it's $4.50 a slice. Pretzels & Ponies -- that's beer, of course -- are part of the day, as is a prize to the patron who picks a trifecta.

WillieJane: Mint Julep loveliness is afoot at this Venice venue, plus general Derby Day conviviality. You have the option of dressing up, but why wouldn't you? Eyeballing what everyone is wearing, pre-race, is practically in the Kentucky Derby rulebook.

Bar Nineteen12: The Beverly Hills Hotel swankery is going with a viewing party plus whiskey tastings (makes sense, given the Derby's locale). Those are gratis, which is so sweet. A contest for Best Hat is in the works, too, so don your feathers and sequins.

Township Saloon: Mint Juleps made with Makers Mark Traditional and blackberries are part of this Sunset tavern's derby party, as are Arnold Palmers made with bourbon. You'll definitely want to arrive decked out in a big hat.

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