Once a year, on the first Saturday of May, over 50,000 people come together in celebration for one of Virginia’s biggest outdoor social events – The Virginia Gold Cup. Held in the Great Meadows of The Plains, Virginia, The Gold Cup is a 3,000+ meter horse race in which horses, and their jockeys, must jump over hedges, walls, and ditches filled with water. Usually this type of horse race isn’t necessarily my style, only because I grew up riding Western (barrel racing, reining, roping, etc) and I am also most passionate about Quarter and Paint horses (although Thoroughbreds are one magnificent breed of horses). But it just so happens that I was invited to attend this years event in accompany of a big group of people from around the world (including my sister, Ashley Croker, and our best friend, Kasey Hughes) and Corporate Sponsor, MC Dean.
On Saturday morning, after getting ready in our classiest and most horse-race-appropriate attire, Ashley, Kasey and I made our way down to brunch, at Dodge Mansion in D.C., to meet and have mimosas with the other event attendees. The room was filled with an abundance of fashion (Steve Madden, LV, Louboutin), light but decedent brunch foods, an island covered in cocktails, and two of the cutest Labradoodle pups anyone has ever met! After mingling together for a while, everyone made their way outside to the MAXIMUS party bus that would be taking us to the races. It was the biggest and coolest party bus I had ever seen, or been on; 50 seats, a stand-up bar, flat screens TV’s, and a VIP room. During the hour-long bus ride, we all drank Dom Pérignon champagne, listened and sang along to the newest pop songs, and talked about which horses we thought may be crowned the 2015 Virginia Gold Cup Gran Champion.
Once we arrived at ‘The Plains’, the doors of the bus opened up to a scenery so beautiful, it looked like it came straight out of a movie; blue skies, pillowy clouds, rows and rows of bright green trees and hills. I was instantly overcome with excitement when I saw some of the horses warming up in the paddocks. We were all shown to Members Hill, where MC Dean had the most gorgeous tent setup for us and all of the guests that would be attending for the day. The tent was filled with round, white tables, a VIP open bar (featuring the official 2015 Gold Cup : The Mint Julip), a buffet of full-sized, perfectly cooked salmon, pulled-pork mini sliders, fried chicken and brownies, and a man taking bets on the horses. And to top it all off, all of the guests got to watch the races from the announcers stage! The stage was located between the track and the winners circle, so we were able to watch the races and then turn around to see the winner get their (both the horse and the jockey) pictures taken. It was spectacular to be so close to the horses and to spend the day watching them run their young, energetic hearts out.
I am so thankful I got the opportunity to experience the Virginia Gold Cup, and also D.C., in the most fantastic way with most wonderful people. It wasn’t the usual “Day in the Life of Lexi.” Below are a few pictures from the weekend 🙂 Also posted is the recipe for the Mint Julip! Try it for your next get together!
The Mint Julip:
2 oz Woodford Reserve® bourbon whiskey
1 oz water
1 teaspoon or a cube white sugar
4 fresh mint sprig