Pricey mint julep cups celebrate Derby, help retired Thoroughbreds

jpatton1@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2014 

Woodford Reserve has created 89 special julep cups to benefit retired racehorses.

Woodford Reserve will guarantee a rosy 140th Kentucky Derby for 89 people who buy this year's special mint julep cups.

For the 89th anniversary of the designation of the Derby as "the Run for the Roses," Woodford Reserve is offering silver and gold julep cups to benefit the Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center outside Georgetown.

On Derby Day, May 3, the purchasers can receive, with great fanfare, a special julep prepared by master distiller Chris Morris.

This year's version works roses in everywhere: ice infused with rose water; Bourbon Barrel Foods' hand-selected and candied rose petals; mint julep simple syrup, also crafted by Bourbon Barrel Foods; and Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select, the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. And it will come with a gold-plated straw to sip it.

Seventy-nine of the cups are silver with a gold-plated, hand-engraved medallion of a Thoroughbred adorned in the traditional Kentucky Derby Rose Garland for $1,000.

For $2,000, there are 10 Royal Rose Cups that are gold plated with a sterling silver medallion also featuring a hand-engraved Thoroughbred wearing a rose garland. (Those sold out within minutes.)

The cups come in an oak box lined with a custom vineyard vines silk; there is a separate collection of bow ties, neckties, pocket squares and scarves, for sale at Woodford Reserve Distillery, to benefit Old Friends.

Old Friends "is very grateful for all of the funds raised and recognition gained from the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cup program," said Michael Blowen, president of Old Friends. "We appreciate the support to help us take care of the retired racing heroes."

The cups went on sale online Monday afternoon at Woodfordreservemintjulep.com; any unsold cups (if there are any) will be available at Churchill Downs. (Within hours, half were already gone.)

Typically, the cups are in such demand that they sell out despite the price, which doesn't include admission to the Kentucky Derby. Buyers arrive early and make their way through the Derby throng to the Woodford Reserve tent to get their ceremonial julep.

This is the ninth year of the program, which has raised more than $354,000 for equine and humanitarian causes. Many collectors buy one or more every year.

If $1,000 is too steep or the cups are sold out, Old Friends takes online donations large and small at Oldfriendsequine.org, or you can make a reservation for a tour of the farm at 1841 Paynes Depot Road to visit racehorses whose names you might recognize.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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