Derby Day Best Bets

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For the past 139 years, on the first Saturday in May, women have donned obnoxiously large hats and sipped mint juleps, men have bet their hard earned money, and three-year-old thoroughbreds have sped down a track in Louisville, Kentucky in an attempt to claim the biggest prize in horse racing.

The Kentucky Derby is called "the most exciting two minutes in sports," and we know you don't want to experience that excitement alone. We've rounded up the best Kentucky Derby events in St. Louis, so there's no excuse not to throw on your most summery dress or seersucker suit and get in on the fun.

On your mark, get set, GO!

Cedar Lake Cellars (Schreckengast Road, Wright City; 636-745-9500) Cedar Lake Cellars is hosting a Derby Day soiree starting at 3:30 p.m. on May 4. The event will be emceed by Fox 2's Randi Naughton, and tickets include food and drinks. Kansas City jazz band KC Groove Therapy will provide live music, and there will be plenty of raffles and prizes, as well as a silent auction. The event would not be complete without a race viewing, of course, or a best hat contest. Millionaire's Row tickets are sold out, but there are still $75 Grandstand tickets available online. All proceeds will benefit Therapeutic Horsemanship, a nonprofit that provides equine-assisted physical, occupational and speech therapy services to children and adults with disabilities in St. Louis.

Hendricks BBQ (1200 S. Main Street, St Charles; 636-724-8600) Hendricks will be hosting its first ever Derby Day celebration, but the owners hope to make it an annual party. There's a full schedule of events from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. including best suit and hat contests, a mint julep contest, a Whiskey 101 presentation and a live derby viewing. Of course, Hendricks will be providing an all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet, as well as various other appetizers and desserts. Tickets are $85 pre-purchase and $90 at the door. Hendricks will be open for regular business during the festivities, but you definitely don't want to miss the fun. Call Hendricks to get your tickets while they last.

This way for more Derby Day shindigs...

Just Johns (4112 Manchester Avenue; 314-371-1333) You'll have a gay ol' time at Just John's Club on Derby Day. There's no cover, and there will be free food and cash prizes for a Derby attire contest. Quitting Amy will be playing on the patio after the screening of the Kentucky Derby. But the party isn't over once the last horse crosses the finish line. Drink specials and general merriment will continue into the night. Hats are encouraged for both women and men. The bigger the better.

The Royale (3132 S. Kingshighway; 314-772-3600) This year will mark The Royale's eighth annual Derby Day celebration, and from what we've heard, it's the place to be. The Soulard Blues Band and Tom Hall will be providing tunes for the event, which goes from 2 p.m. until last call. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Oh yeah, and you better be dressed in your Derby Day finest. Men are required to wear ties, and ladies, come rocking your most southern hat.

But wait, there's more!

Three Sixty (1 S. Broadway Street; 314-241-8439) If you're going to drink on Derby Day, why not drink for charity? Three Sixty is teaming up with the Young Friends of St. Louis Children's Hospital for a Derby Day celebration to benefit the St. Louis Children's Hospital. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door and include two drinks from A-B or Four Roses bourbon, but there will also be plenty of mint juleps. At the party, you can enter to win prizes like a night's stay at the Hilton or Cardinals tickets. The festivities are happening from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m., and as with any proper Derby party, hats are encouraged.

Derby de Mayo Pub Crawl (Washington Avenue) Fifteen bars on Wash. Ave. are teaming up to host a massive pub crawl beginning at 12 p.m. in celebration of both Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo. My Drink On and Night Society have arranged for drink specials, hat competitions and lots of Derby-Mexican fusion attire you can pick up at some of the bars (think jockey Derby hats and stereotypical bandito moustaches). A $35 ticket will get you three drink tickets for Bud Light, Jose Cuervo and Bulleit Bourbon. A list of all participating bars can be found at the Derby de Mayo website.

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