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Gazette food columnist Lucy Pickett has her Triple Crown food and drink plans in place

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Tis the season. Yes, it’s full blown spring but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about horse racing season. I can’t help it. It is in my blood.

From the days when my father took me, at a very young age, to the Three-County Fair grounds for the annual fair, which included more than a week of horse racing, I’ve been hooked. (Don’t worry, not in a Gamblers Anonymous kind of way.) It was a delightfully seedy atmosphere. People from all walks of life — the horse people and jockeys and the “carnies” that came with the midway and local folks just having a good time betting on the ponies.

Dad would let me bet on the horses, despite my age. Back then, it seemed, if you were tall enough to reach the betting window you could bet.

Later in my horse-racing days at the fair, I would meet friends and we would make a day of it on the infield, betting, drinking beer and eating sausage grinders and fresh cut French fries, cooked in beef lard. Just having a great time in general.

The racing at the fair is long over, but I religiously watch the Triple Crown races, that happen from May to June, and often have people over to make it a party. I try to coordinate the food and, of course, cocktails with the region and traditions of each race.

The Kentucky Derby: Mint juleps and fried chicken and ribs and ham. And hats of course. The Preakness: A Black-eyed Susan cocktail and maybe something with crabmeat or shrimp. And the Belmont Stakes: The Belmont Breeze cocktail, and steaks, of course — for the “stakes”.

It’s all fun. I wouldn’t miss it. After all, it’s in my blood.

— LUCY

Way to watch the races, neigh-bor!

Haven't heard of the Black-eyed
Susan or Belmont Breeze cocktails.

I've been making caipirinhas with blood orange juice mixed in. It's officially my favorite drink this year. It goes down way too easy. For those who have a need to know:

Chop up a whole lime and put it in the bottom of large glass. Add a sugar cube or a teaspoon of sugar. Muddle until it looks like a lime green mush. Fill with ice. Pour in enough cachaca to fill almost to top. Juice in half a blood orange. Stir 13 times.

Try not to drink all in one gulp.

— LOU

P.S. Cachaca is Brazil's distilled spirit of choice, made from fermented sugarcane juice. It's like rum on steroids. Which I hope the winner of the Kentucky Derby was not on. Steroids that is, not cachaca.