Kentucky Derby Day Fun!

Updated: Aug 8

I’m from Kentucky. "Derby Day," as the first Saturday in May is known here, is practically a state holiday, and probably would be declared one if it weren’t always on a Saturday anyway. Consequently, I have either hosted or attended a Derby party every year for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall exactly when or why I decided to create Derby Exacta Pool and Winner's Circle Pool posters, but they’ve been a fun little addition to the party for the last five or ten years, and if I’m not hosting, my friends request I bring them wherever the party is.

I started out this most recent design by choosing a beautiful retro font called Blastrick, which has lots of cool glyphs and swashes that let you customize your headline to look great and fit perfectly in the space you need. The color was of course inspired by the Run for the Roses; I found this beautiful racehorse portrait on Creative Market, and then added some vector roses from...frankly I don't remember where I got the roses from, but I will confess that I didn't draw them myself. I did however apply some photoshop filters to both the horse and roses that resulted in the final look you see. Finally, I added a background from this set of Art Deco patterns, rendered in a soft gray.

For the grid section, I started with a red background and continued the art deco pattern there. I used a gray wood texture for the top and left columns, adding in a little grunge texture at the edges that reminded me of the dirt flying up around a thoroughbred's speeding hooves. The grid itself is left empty - the better for guests to add their initials when they buy squares.

If you don’t observe Derby Day, maybe it’s time you start. It’s a lot of fun. Mint juleps are not my cup of...bourbon, to be honest, but any Kentucky bourbon cocktail (my preference is the Keeneland Breeze) is acceptable refreshment. Along with the posters, my usual contributions to Derby parties also include Derby Pie tarts - I adapted the traditional derby pie recipe into tarts that are easier for party guests to grab and go...and scrumptious Bourbon Meatballs. I'll add those recipes below in case you're interested in making them for your shindig.

If you do decide to host a Derby party in a state other than Kentucky, be prepared for an initial response like that of my sister’s Florida friends, who, when she invited them over for hers, were bewildered that she would start such a party at noon. Several asked if she couldn't make it a little later in the day, like around 7:00. (Hint: the race is over by about 6:40, but the full race day card is usually telecast). For extra fun, download the Twinspires app so you can place real wagers on your phone - no bookie required.

My Derby Pool posters, which come with mini posters explaining the game to your guests and tips for running your pool, are available in the IMQ Shop and in my Etsy shop. These are digital downloads - download, print at your local Walmart, Walgreens, or similar (most offer same-day pickup)...and YOU'RE OFF!




1½ cup butter, softened

9 oz. cream cheese, softened

3 cups all-purpose flour


1 cup white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-2 cups chopped pecans

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Beat softened margarine or butter and cream cheese until thoroughly combined. Stir in flour.

3. Using ungreased mini muffin cups, press a rounded teaspoon of pastry evenly into the bottom and up the sides of each cup. (This recipe is enough for about 3 trays, or 72 tarts). Place 4-5 chocolate chips in each cup. Set aside.

4. In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter or margarine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter or margarine melts and sugar dissolves. Cool slightly.

5. In a large bowl combine eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Slowly pour sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in pecans. Fill each tart shell with pecan mixture.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, turning pan once to ensure even baking, until set and golden.


This recipe with its beef and pork meatballs and amazing apricot-bourbon sauce, is the one I use, and let me tell you, these babies never last until post time. YUUUUUMMMM!

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