Mint Julep charity honors Black Kentucky Derby winners

Mint Julep Cherries and Cream

Woodford Reserve’s $1,000 Mint Julep charity is honoring the Black jockeys who dominated horse racing in the early years of the Kentucky Derby.

The jockeys being honored, in what is considered one of the Kentucky Derby’s most unique annual traditions, were considered the first professional athletes in America. Before being pushed out the sport by racism and segregation, the individuals won 15 of the early Kentucky Derby races.

“The jockeys played a significant role in horse racing that many people know little about,” Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris said. “It’s time to honor them and their legacies. They each exemplified love for the sport and the pursuit of excellence, despite the inequality and injustice they faced throughout their lives and careers.”

The proceeds from this year’s cup sales will benefit the Project to Protect African-American Turf History, a non-profit organization, based in Kentucky, that has been working for more than a decade to tell the history of the Black jockeys.

A total of 100 julep cups are on sale here. The cups numbered 1-11 are gold-plated and sell for $2,500 each. Cups 12-100 are silver-plated and sell for $1,000. Each cup is engraved with the name of one Black jockey and the year or years they won the Derby.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cups will be mailed directly to consumers, along with most of the ingredients to make the Cherries and Cream mint julep. Cherries and cream were common ingredients for a Derby Day menu in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The cups were designed and hand-engraved by From the Vault jeweler in Louisville. Each comes in a bespoke purse designed by Louisville artist Albert Shumake, and each cup is cradled in decorative silk designed by Louisville artist Gwendolyn Kelly. Kelly’s custom pattern is the ‘four-man clover’, representing the interconnected network of support and strength among Black jockeys, trainers, and groomsmen.


The cherries and cream julep is inspired by the Derby Day menus of the late 1800s and early 1900s when Black jockeys won the race. Vanilla bean pods represent the cream.

2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
.5 oz. cherry juice
.5 of a vanilla bean pod, cut into small segments
1 tsp. powdered sugar
Crushed ice

Mint sprig, cherry, and vanilla pod

In the julep cup, add .5 oz cherry juice. Add half a vanilla bean pod cut into small segments. Add 1 tsp. of powdered sugar. Muddle or mix together. Add crushed ice to 2/3 of the cup. Add 2 oz of Woodford Reserve. Top off the cup with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig, real cherry, and vanilla bean pod.

Cherries and Cream Julep

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