It was a day of pride and pageantry at the 6th annual Harlem Derby, “stylish and stunning” everywhere you looked, was the theme of the day. Mint Julep’s, tasty hors d’oeuvres and good vibes flowed freely, as we listen to Blues, Jazz and Soul by Choclattjared & The Swagga Band who played at the bar of the Red Rooster Restaurant while down stairs in Ginny’s Supper Club The Waiters of Happyness Band performed.
Some of the attendees chose to sit alfresco where they were the first see… and to be seen and as more guests arrived they grooved to some of the best 70’s, 80’s and 90’s R&B music, until it was time to watch the Churchill Downs race on big screens provided in every key area of the restaurant.
Just when people thought the day couldn’t get any better, the weather was heaven sent (not too warm and not too cool) which was perfect for folks with panache and flair. Speaking of which there were dinner and drink certificates presented for Best Hat & Best Dressed sponsored by B Squared Harlem and by Harlem EatUp.
No stone was left unturned by hat designer, founder of the Harlem Derby and host Rob Owens, including the fact that he reminded patrons that June 5, 2018 will mark the 144th year of the Kentucky Derby — a sporting event that African Americans have helped to cultivate from its inception. When African people were bought to America for the purpose of slavery, they worked the plantation fields, as well as in the owner’s stables.
According to Owens (a native Kentuckian) these skilled African care takers not only fed and groomed the horses but some, especially if they were from West Africa, may have been horse grooming experts.
He also stated that there were 13 African Americans among the first 15 jockeys in the initial 1875 Kentucky Derby. In fact, Black Jockeys won 15 of the first 28 races. Each year the Harlem Derby present a racing professional with an appreciative award, this year noted horse trainer Tony Wilson was the recipient of that auspicious salute. Owens’ goal is to bring ongoing attention to the rich and invaluable contributions African American’s have bought and continue to bring to the horse racing industry. All in all it was a fabulous day co-sponsored by, Hendricks Gin, Reyka Vodka and Hudson Whiskey. Without a doubt, Rob Owens and his gracious staff presented the event of the year!