Gail Simmons & Derby Day

It’s hard to believe it’s already a week ago that I was at Churchill Downs. The weekend was filled with so many activities, one of which was to meet celebrity Top Chef judge Gail Simmons and have breakfast with her the morning of the Kentucky Derby.

Gail Simmons Pure Leaf

What’s she like, you ask?….charming and down to earth. Between sharing why she needed to have a Hot Brown at the hotel (I’ll talk about that in another post!) and trying to figure out what horses she should wager on, we had a few good laughs around the table! Admittedly when it was my turn to introduce myself to her, and share about myself and my blog…my voice quivered a bit, I do believe this was the first time I’d actually sat and talked to someone who is recognizably famous. I needn’t have been so nervous though, she puts her hat on with two hands, just like the rest of us ladies! (Although granted she wields a whisk better than I could any day!).

Gail Simmons Pure Leaf Booth

The Lemon Ginger Tulep recipe she created using the Pure Leaf Lemon Iced Tea is a nice cold, refreshing drink to have on a hot summer (or in our case hot spring Derby Day!).

Gail Simmons Lemon Ginger Tulep
(Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images)

If we thought the crowds at Kentucky Oaks were large, we saw nothing! A record number of people came out for the 138th Kentucky Derby, and armed with the knowledge (and more sunscreen) of the day before, we were ready to conquer!

We made our way to the infield club tent today, shaded with some great food, a huge screen to watch the races on, and the betting booths and bathrooms (wink) close by! The infield club also provided us a look at a great assortment of fashion, especially hats (another couple posts on that coming up).

So I’m not really one to gamble by nature, but when in Rome…right? That’s really what makes the difference on watching the races though, you watch with so much more passion when you have a stake in which horse wins (and I’m guessing the more you bet, the more passion you have!). Never having bet before, and I didn’t pick up a copy of ‘wagering for dummies’ prior to the Derby, the ‘cashier’ (is that what you call them? I’m pretty sure the legit guys aren’t called bookies…) was quite patient with my lack of knowledge, right down to having no idea what horse number the one I wanted to bet on was… Anyway, I put $15.00 (yep, I know I’m a BIG spender) on Gemologist, I mean diamonds are a girl’s best friend …

Gemologist Kentucky Derby

After a brilliant performance of the National Anthem by Mary J. Blige, the spine chilling chorus singing My Old Kentucky Home and the Call to Post (which incidentally is now the ring tone on my phone) – I was waiting for horse 15 to win, place or show, and ready to cash in big (well I wouldn’t have netted that much if he won, but you get the idea…)

Mary J Blige Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby start

Running of the 138 Kentucky Derby

I won’t be quitting my day job to become a professional gambler though, because obviously my choice in winning horses isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, since he neither, won, placed or showed…sigh…well there’s always next year….

I was invited to participate in a taste immersion experience with Pure Leaf, for which they provided full travel expenses, meals and accommodations and other premiums, however my opinions are completely my own and I have not been compensated to publish positive or negative reviews of the event or products associated with my experience.