Derby Day and the food is flowing.

The hardcore racetrack touts have been ready for weeks, and later today the amateurs will tune in to the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Someone is making a lot of money on cocktail napkins.

Just because it’s all over in a few minutes doesn’t limit the foodies on the scene. Jo-Jo Doyle, the top chef at Churchill Downs, where the race is run, has been slaving over a pot of black-eyed peas for some time now. A quarter of a million people come to the race festivities, and all that fresh air makes ’em hungry.

Doyle’s got more than 40 chefs helping him, and something like 3,000 workers. Reporter Adam Watson got the stats:  32,400 jumbo shrimp; 142,000 hot dogs and 300,000 strawberries. Oh, and 14,000 pounds of turkey will get et by the time race week is over.

The most famous of Derby refreshments, of course, is the mint julip, a drink that even the least talented bartender can make. (Bourbon, sugar, mint, crushed ice.)  A ton of mint–literally–gets used by the toasting crowd at Churchill Downs.

There’s a school of thought that favors betting horses with names that have something to do with eating and drinking. (A school in which all the pupils are broke, probably.) That means Stay Thirsty is this year’s fave. (The three-year-old’s pedigree is Bernardini-Marozia by Storm Bird, if you’ve been following this sport for a bit.)

Finding out what Stay Thirsty and the other contenders eat is tough. The Pentagon could take lessons from the horseracing crowd when it comes to keeping things secret. One thing is certain: the experts factor in all the things humans consider (or should) when dieting: Level of activity, age, quality of food, amount of protein, fat, grain.

–Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett


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