Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1-59058-302-9
December, 2006

ISBN: 1-59058-303-6
March, 2007


"There is plenty of action here, all set against the excitement and pageantry of the build-up to America’s greatest horse race. Neither race fans nor devotees of suspense will be disappointed." ~Booklist

“[In] Ehrman’s engaging fourth outing for barn manager Steve Cline . . . equine-minded readers will enjoy Ehrman’s capable, savvy young protagonist and authentic depiction of the gritty world of horse racing." ~Publishers Weekly

"Just as a horse recognizes when sure hands gather the reins, from the first page of Triple Cross, I found myself on the bit and ready to go wherever Kit Ehrman led. Set in Louisville as Derby excitement builds ... the mystery unfolds with a clocker's precision while deftly capturing the city, the track, and its thoroughbred stars."
~Robbee Huseth, bookseller

party scene
Louisville, KY
the high life
K i t   E h r m a n . . .


book trailer

Follow an interactive TRIPLE CROSS Tour of Louisville


4th Street Live!

10 Romantic Things to do in Louisville

A Taste of Kentucky
party supplies and Derby gifts.

Belle of Louisville

Bourbon and the Mint Julep

Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe

Churchill Downs official site.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail - take the tour.

Kentucky Derby official site.

Kentucky Derby Festival over 70 events entertain 1.7+ million people during the two weeks leading up to Derby.

Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby party invitations.

Louisville Carriage Tours

Louisville Guide, food, sports, attractions guide.

Louisville International Airport

Louisville Tours - all kinds of neat, year-round tours perfect for long weekends.

Louisville Restaurants
a great list of links and a map to all the restaurants on the list.

Louisville tourism information. Official Visitors Bureau.

Louisville Tours

Louisville Waterfront - 
maps, jogging trails, boating information.

Maker's Mark Lounge.

Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge at 4th Street Live! The first of its kind.

Poppy Design features a line of Kentucky Derby jewelry.

The Brown Hotel - one of Louisville's most treasured historic landmarks.

The Courier-Journal - Louisville's news source.

The Galt House  Louisville's only waterfront hotel.

The Seelbach Hilton, Louisville's premier, luxury hotel where F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone hung out.

Thunder Over Louisville - North America's largest pyrotechnic show that kicks off the Derby Festival.

Triple Crown facts and party ideas.

Wagner's Pharmacy - located across from Churchill Down's Gate 5 is a fascinating racing tradition.

Woodford Reserve - distillery in Versailles, Kentucky.
Home>>Kentucky Derby Party!

"And they're off!" 

Those three words launch what is often referred to as the most exciting two minutes in sports -- The Kentucky Derby. The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will be held on May 2nd, 2015. On this page, you'll find resources for throwing a Derby Party.


tea sandwiches
The Hot Brown
Kentucky Burgoo

Bourbon Balls
Kentucky Derby Pie

Mint Julep
Mint Julep Martini
Bourbon Slush
A&W Root Beer Float, Derby Style

Door Prize:
Give your guests a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the Derby. TRIPLE CROSS is a fast-paced mystery that takes the reader from the backside of the racetrack to 4th Street Live! From a life-and-death struggle at the fairgrounds to an elegant Thunder party in the National City Tower. From a spectacular sunset at Riverfront Plaza to first light on Derby morning . . . to the great race itself.

Choose this special gift for your guests - a unique keepsake, both for Louisvillians and out-of-town guests who have yet to experience the thrill of the Derby. Buy Book

Party Supplies:
A Taste of Kentucky - Kentucky foods, arts, and crafts and everything Derby.
Kentucky Derby Party - Triple Crown facts and tips on how to conduct betting at your party.
Kentucky Derby Products - from apparel to napkins. You'll find it here.
Parties Outside the Box - Derby invitations and fun stuff like chocolate horseshoes.
Party Kits and Equestrian Gifts - great selection of gifts.
Plum Party Supplies - coordinated  plates, glasses, and napkins.

Derby History:
An article from Insiders' Guide

Kentucky Derby and Louisville Links Galore:
see the column to the left

Tea Sandwiches . . .
Before you begin: A thin coating of butter will keep the bread from getting soggy. Use high-quality, fresh bread, thinly sliced, edges trimmed. Cut the sandwich into quarters.


1 large English cucumber, peeled, sliced paper thin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon
1/4 cup minced fresh chervil
30 thin slices whole-wheat bread, enough to make 72 (2x4inch) rectangles
Watercress leaves, optional

Put cucumber slices in large bowl. Toss with salt. Sprinkle with vinegar. Toss to mix well. Let stand 1 hour. Drain well in colander. Combine butter, tarragon and chervil. To assemble, spread butter over 1 side of each bread slice. Cover 15 slices with cucumbers, dividing evenly. Close sandwiches. Trim crusts. Cut into 36 rectangles. Arrange on platter, garnished with watercress leaves.


8 eggs, hard boiled 
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1/3 cup plain yogurt 
3 tbs relish, either sweet or dill 
1 tbs onion, chopped 

Cool and shell the eggs, then mash them. Mix in mayo, relish, yogurt and onion. Mix well. Make sandwiches on thin bread without crusts, and slice into triangles.


1-6 oz. can albacore tuna, packed in oil 
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice 
2 to 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives 
3 tbsp mayonnaise 
1/4 cup finely chopped celery 
1 tsp dried thyme 
12 slices thinly sliced whole wheat bread 
salt & pepper to taste 
Sprigs of fresh thyme

In a small bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix well. Stir in celery, chives and thyme. Season to taste with sale and pepper. Make sandwiches on thin bread without crusts, and slice into triangles.


This is an unusual addition to afternoon tea. Instead of bland cucumber and butter, you'll find rich, musky prosciutto and tangy honey mustard and cool asparagus. These sandwiches are a perfect foil to stronger, more full-bodied teas. 

54 medium  asparagus spears  
18 slices  firm-textured bread  
8 ounces  whipped cream cheese, room temperature
Freshly ground pepper 
1/2 pound  prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
Honey mustard  

1. Cut asparagus spears to fit bread slices. 

2. In a large saucepan fitted with steamer insert, bring 1 inch of water to a boil and steam asparagus until just cooked, about 3 minutes.

3. Plunge asparagus into bowl of ice water. When chilled, remove and pat dry with paper towels. 

4. Spread bread slices with thin layer of cream cheese, pepper generously and set aside. 

5. Cut each prosciutto slice in half lengthwise, and spread with 1/4 teaspoon or more of mustard. Starting with tip, roll asparagus in prosciutto, spiraling downward as you go. Repeat with each spear. 

6. Cover 9 bread slices with 6 wrapped spears each, then top with remaining slices. With a serrated knife, trim crusts. Cut each sandwich in half across spears, or quarter. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.


1 large (8oz pkg.) Cream Cheese (softened)
Set aside in mixing bowl.

In another bowl, mix the following:
3 hard boiled eggs (Chopped fine)
1/2 of medium-sized green pepper (chopped fine)
1/2 of medium size onion (chopped fine)
1/4 to 3/4 c. finely chopped pecans
salt and pepper

Add all of this to the softened cream cheese and then add 
2 Tbsp. Catsup, last.

Large sandwich loaf (White or Wheat) bread.
Remove crust and spread mixture on the
sandwiches - quarter.

You can prepare these sandwiches the day before and chill. It's really better when the mixture sets up awhile. Pile them on a platter and cover with saran wrap. NOTE: beware possible nut allergies, people don't expect nuts to be hidden in sand-wich fillings. Possibly substitute finely diced celery.


1/2 c Mayonnaise 
1/3 c Cranberries, fresh/frozen 
2 tb Pecans; chopped 
1/4 ts ;salt 
1/8 ts Pepper 
16 x Bread slices; crust removed 
16 x Chicken slices, thin 
 -cooked (to 24 slices) 
8 x Lettuce leaves 

Combine the first five ingredients; spread on one side of each slice of bread. Layer half the slices with chicken and lettuce. Top with remaining bread. Cut into quarters. NOTE: Chive butter may be used in place of the cranberry mayonnaise.
Beat 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper until fluffy, stir in 2 tablespoons minced chives.


3 oz. of port-fig butter (see below)
12 1/4 inches of slice of bread 
3 oz. of thinly sliced prosciutto
Some baby lettuce 

Port-Fig Butter:
4 large dried figs
3 T. of port wine 
8 T. of unsalted butter (room temperature) 
1/2 t. of salt 

Chop the figs finely; transfer the figs to a small bowl. Set aside. Heat the port in a small saucepan for about 1 minute to warm. Pour the port over the figs. Let soak until the port is absorbed. Place the butter in the bowl of the food processor. Add the figs and salt. Mix well until no chunks of butter remaining. Transfer the butter mixture to a sheet of wax paper. Roll into a 1-inch-wide log. Refrigerate until ready to use.


3 cups chicken broth or water
2 whole boneless chicken breasts with skin (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
24 very thin slices homemade-type white bread
1/2 cup finely chopped smoked almonds (about 2 ounces) 

In a deep 12-inch skillet bring broth or water to a boil and add chicken breasts in one layer. Reduce heat and poach chicken at a bare simmer, turning once, 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and cool chicken in cooking liquid 20 minutes. Discard skin and shred chicken fine. In a bowl stir together chicken, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, shallot, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Make 12 sandwiches with chicken salad and bread, pressing together gently. Quarter.

Put almonds on a small plate and spread edges sandwiches with remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise to coat well. Press edges in almonds. Sandwiches may be made 2 hours ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap, and chilled. Makes 24 tea sandwiches.


This spread can be used as a dip or a sandwich & canape ingredient. It was made popular at Louisville's Benedict's restaurant earlier in this century.

1 large cucumber
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
dash green food coloring (optional)

Pare, grate, and drain cucumber. Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor. Serve as is or as a sandwich or canape spread. Thin with sour cream to make a dip for vegetables.

HOT BROWN (read the history behind this Louisville tradition)

4 oz. Butter
Flour to make a Roux (about 6 tablespoons)
3 – 3 ½ cups Milk
1 Beaten Egg
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 oz. Whipped Cream (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Slices of Roast Turkey
8-12 Slices of Toast (may be trimmed)
Extra Parmesan for Topping
8-12 Strips of Fried Bacon

Melt butter and add enough flour to make a reasonably thick roux (enough to absorb all of the butter). Add milk and Parmesan cheese. Add egg to thicken sauce, but do not allow sauce to boil. Remove from heat. Fold in whipped cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast on a metal (or flameproof) dish. Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey and toast. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of bacon on top, and serve immediately.


3 lb. chicken, ready to cook 
2 lb. beef tips 
12 c. water 
1 T. salt 
1/4 t. pepper 
6 slices Bacon 
2 large cans tomatoes 
1 c. cubed peeled potatoes 
2 c. sliced carrots 
1 c. chopped onion 
1 c. chopped celery 
1 c. chopped green pepper 
2 T. packed dark brown sugar 
1/4 t. crushed dried red pepper 
4 whole cloves 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 bay leaf 
4 ears of corn 
2 cans Butter Beans 
1 c. sliced okra (can substitute 1 package of frozen) 
2/3 c. all-purpose Flour

In 10-quart Dutch oven or stock pot combine chicken, beef, water, salt and pepper. Cover; cook til meat is tender, about 1 hour. Remove chicken from broth leaving the beef tips in it. Remove chicken from bones, discard skin and bones, and cube. Set aside.

Cook bacon til crisp; drain, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon, set aside. To reserved broth and beef in Dutch oven, add undrained tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, green pepper, sugar, red pepper, cloves, garlic,and bay leaf. Cover; simmer 1 hour, stirring often. Remove cloves and bay leaf. With knife, make cuts down center of each row of corn kernels and scrape off of cobs. Add corn, cubed chicken, undrained beans, and okra to Dutch oven; simmer 20 minutes. Blend flour and reserved bacon drippings; stir into stew. Cook until stew thickens. Salt to taste.


1 cup fine vanilla wafer crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
confectioners' sugar, sifted

Thoroughly combine 1 crushed vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, and the cocoa. In a separate bowl, blend the bourbon and corn syrup. Stir this bourbon mixture into the dry mixture; blend well. Cover and chill for at least a few hours. Sift about 1/2 to 1 cup of confectioners' sugar on a cookie sheet. Shape small bits of the dough into balls and roll them in the confectioners'. Store in refrigerator in tightly covered containers. Make these a few days in advance for best flavor, and roll in confectioners' sugar again before serving, if desired. These can also be frozen for longer storage. 
Makes about 3 dozen bourbon balls


3 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 c. light corn syrup 
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed 
1 c. chopped pecans 
1/4 t. salt 
1/2 t. vanilla 
6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate morsels 
1 9 inch deep dish pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 350 degrees for 35 minutes more. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 


1 liter Maker’s Mark
Lots of fresh spearmint leaves
1 cup Distilled water
1 cup Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar for garnish
Mint sprigs for garnish

1. To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves – wash and place in a small mixing bowl. Cover with 3 ounces of Maker’s Mark. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times. Then set aside.

2. To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and one cup of water in a cooking pot. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

3. To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of Maker’s Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. (Pour the remaining whisky from the liter bottle into another container and save it for another purpose). Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker’s Mark.

4. Now, begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose. The tendency is to use too much mint. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste – generally about 3 tablespoons.

5. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to "marry" the flavors.

6. To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) half full with shaved ice. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

7. When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Then serve.


1 oz orange liqueur 
1 oz bourbon
1/4 oz vanilla vodka
1/4 oz peppermint schnapps 

Shake and strain into a chilled
martini glass. Garnish with mint
sprigs and/or an orange twist. 


2 1/2 cups hot tea 
12 oz frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed 
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
2 cups bourbon
1 cup sugar
6 cups water 

Let tea cool, then mix all ingredients together and freeze in a plastic container. When ready to serve, scoop into a glass. Garnish with pineapple chunks or a cherry on a toothpick, or mint.


Fill a frosted mug two-third full with A&W Root Beer. Place one scoop of mint (or mint chocolate chip) ice cream on top of the root beer. (Root Beer is added first, and the ice cream is then "floated" on top.) Be sure to use a frosty mug, so you can watch the root beer and ice cream interact. If you like, add a sprig of mint on top of the float.

Louisville:  The Derby and the Downs
From The Insider's Guide to Louisville

For one day a year, Louisville makes a legitimate claim to being the center of the universe, flocked to by celebrities, celebrated in parties across the land, wringing tears worldwide with the first notes of “My Old Kentucky Home.” 

The Kentucky Derby is the world’s most famous horse race — “the most exciting 2 minutes in sports” — but its transforming effect on the city begins a good two weeks before the first Saturday in May, the race’s annual date. 

Bleachers go up along Broadway in the middle of the night. Otherwise sober and responsible men begin wearing hideous pastel blazers with tiny winged horses — a fashion statement that proclaims their positions as officers of the Derby Festival. Young ladies costumed as Southern belles hand out bourbon-laced chocolates to visitors arriving at the airport. Playing hooky from work becomes a way of life. Folks you never knew cared begin talking about thoroughbreds with the conviction (and accuracy) of a Damon Runyon tout. 

The Derby is our version of Mardi Gras, the swallows coming back to Capistrano and the Super Bowl (although there’s never been a dull Derby). A measure of how seriously the race is taken here: When I was in seventh grade, in 1968, our teacher announced to the class that Derby winner Dancer’s Image had just been disqualified for drug use, the same way our teachers had told us five years earlier President Kennedy had been shot. (In recent years the public schools have closed on Oaks Day, the Friday before the Derby, ostensibly because the traffic around the Downs would disrupt the school buses, but also because so many pupils and teachers would cut classes for the day, anyway.)

The Kentucky Derby is one of America’s most successful exercises in hype: promotion so successful that it has shaped reality around it. It began in 1875 at the new Louisville Jockey Club (renamed Churchill Downs a decade or so later, for the owners of the land where the track was located). There was much bold talk in the local press about the Derby becoming “the great race of the country” and Derby Day becoming the city’s preeminent holiday. 

But by the turn of the century, the Derby was only one of many prominent American stakes, and its reputation was slipping so disastrously that the race almost died (one newspaper called the 1894 running “a contest of dogs”). That decline was arrested by Matt Winn, the leading member of the partnership which took control of the track in 1902. Colonel Winn, once described by the New York Times as being so canny he “could give cards and spades to Barnum and beat him,” assiduously courted the leading horsemen of the East and the racing press. By 1915, he had turned the Derby into the country’s most celebrated race and helped create a tradition around the beauty of Kentucky in the spring that continues to this day. 

As a result, the Derby is the one race every horseman wants to win, both for the glory and for the money: It’s estimated that winning the Derby adds $8 million to $10 million to a horse’s syndication price for breeding.

Many great horses — Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Kelso, Buckpasser, John Henry, Cigar — never raced in the Derby; others, such as Native Dancer, Nashua, Bold Ruler, Round Table and Alydar, ran and didn’t win. But no race anywhere can boast such a roll call of winners: Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Northern Dancer, Spectacular Bid, Citation, Alysheba, Hindoo, Regret, Exterminator, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Swaps, Needles, Affirmed, Sunday Silence.

The Derby is the first jewel in the Triple Crown classic races (the others are the Preakness and Belmont stakes). Only 11 horses have won all three. For years, the Triple Crown was an honorary title only. Since 1987 Chrysler has sponsored a Triple Crown Challenge that awards $5 million if a horse wins them all (which hasn’t happened since Affirmed in 1978).

Unlike comparable sports championships, the Derby comes early in the season, rather than at the end of a grueling series of games and playoffs. Being early means that the Derby brings the news: It is the first time that the best horses in the crop of 3-year-olds meet.

Three-year-old horses are like college basketball players, just coming into their full maturity, but not as strong and fast as they will be at four. Before the first Saturday in May, they have been racing in Florida, California, New York, Arkansas, Louisiana and over at Keeneland in Lexington, many of them studiously avoiding each other before the big race.

None of them has ever raced 1¼ miles; the 126 pounds each colt carries is the most weight it’s ever raced under (fillies carry 121). And the noise and color of Derby Day creates an unprecedented psychological situation for horse, jockey, trainer and owner alike. 

Although more than 20 horses have led the race wire-to-wire, the Derby is more often won by a horse that lays off the pace. There have been many exciting finishes: Broker’s Tip and Head Play heading for the finish line in 1933, their jockeys hitting and grabbing each other; Willie Shoemaker in 1957 mistaking the 16th pole for the finish line and standing up just long enough to let Iron Liege past his mount, Gallant Man; Alysheba stumbling in the stretch and then going on to win in 1987. 

And every year brings some drama or controversy: the extraordinary popularity of come-from-way-behind horse Silky Sullivan in 1958; Dancer’s Image being disqualified; the hard luck of jockey Pat Day, the Downs’ all-time leading rider, who lost 10 Derbies before finally winning on Lil E. Tee in 1992. 

But the most noteworthy thing about the Derby is that, for all the sentimentality, greed, corporate aggrandizement and boosterism that get loaded onto the poor horse race, it works: Derby time is Louisville’s moment of special grace.


1926 - Chef Fred K. Schmidt of the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, created The Hot Brown sandwich. In the 1920s, the Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. The band would play until late, and when they took a break around midnight, everyone would retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Bored with the traditional ham and eggs, Chef Schmidt delighted his guests by creating the Hot Brown.

As told by Rudy Suck, hotel manager during the 1920s: The Hot Brown was developed three or four years after the hotel opened. The band would play from 10:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. When they took a break around midnight, people would order food. Usually ham and eggs. We decided we needed something new.

The chef, Fred K. Schmidt, said, "I have an idea for an open-faced turkey sandwich with Mornay sauce over it."

At that time turkeys were only used at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they had just started selling them year-round.

I said, "That sounds a little flat."

The chef said, "I'm going to put it under the broiler."

The maitre d' piped in. "It should have a little color, too."

So Schmidt said, "We'll put two strips of bacon on top of it."

I suggested pimientos, too, and that's how The Hot Brown came to be.

Today the Hot Brown sandwich is still a Louisville favorite and the signature dish of the Camberley Brown Hotel. A visit to Louisville is not complete without tasting this wonderful sandwich.

from: What's Cooking America 

This page is dedicated to the memory
of Barbaro, winner of the 132nd
running of the Kentucky Derby on
May 5, 2006.

Photo by Barbara D. Livingston.

SPECIAL EDITION: read the Bloodhorse.com's TALKIN' HORSES interview with Dr. Dean Richardson, Barbaro's surgeon after his catastrophic injury sustained during the Preakness Stakes.

Mint Julep Martini
Early Times Mint Julep
Site content copyrighted 2006/2013 by Kit Ehrman.   top of page
Louisville Skyline photo by Fleur-Design.net
Horse photo by Mike Corrado