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Kentucky Derby 2011: 5 Activities to Keep the Kids Entertained

Mint Julep anyone?

This Saturday is the big day, folks: the most exciting two minutes in sports. You know, the Kentucky Derby? This year’s big buzz centers around Uncle Mo. At one point, he was a heavy favorite, but a pesky gastrointestinal issue has set the thoroughbred back a bit. The million dollar question on everyone’s mind is can Uncle Mo regain his form or will he, instead, um, crap out? (Oh no. I’m sorry.)

But come Saturday, even though my money’ll be on Mo, I’ll be just as concerned about my kids. Because if I can’t find a way to keep them entertained, I’ll be the one feeling sick to my stomach, as my enjoyment of the big race will pretty much go (dare I?) down the toilet.

So, if you’re in the same boat I am (would a Ty-D-Bol-man reference be too obscure here?), fear not. Because after a little research, I’ve come up with 5 kid-friendly activities which should keep my crew entertained. And that means that I’ll be able to sit back, sip on a mint julep and root for that elusive trifecta. After all, Papa’s about to have an extra mouth to feed!

1. It’s all about the hats: Even if you’ve never actually set foot in Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, surely you know what a big deal hats are at the Derby. So why not make ‘em a big deal at your house, too? Everyone loves a good hat. Just ask the folks at Suite 101. Last year at this time, Gabi Larson wrote an awesome piece that suggested you get your kids creative juices flowing by having them design their very own hat. “Paper plates, foam visors or light cardboard boxes can be used for a simple base. With glue, ribbon, feathers, buttons, flowers and a bit of adult supervision, kids will be the best-dressed guests at the races.”

2. When in doubt, color it out: Okay, so Junior’s rocking a fairly silly looking hat. Now what? Why don’t you print off a bunch of these coloring pages of a jockey and a horse from PrintActivities for your kids to work on? While your kids stay inside the lines, you can root for your horse to do anything but as he makes his way down the home stretch. Thanks to Louisville.com for turning me on to that one.

3. Silly names = Good times: Ever notice how many of the horses have incredibly fun names? This year, Stay Thirsty comes to mind. So why not help your kids come up with a few great names of their own? (Thanks, again, to Suite 101 for this idea.) Fill one hat with a bunch of adjectives like slippery, crazy and shy and fill another hat with a corresponding number of nouns like warrior, champion and warlock (shout out to C. Sheen who you just know will be getting his Derby on…) and have your kids select one of each and let the christening begin. I recommend you get out the old hobby horses and let them go nuts.

4. Numbers, numbers, numbers: Once the final field is set, write down the numbers of the starting positions of the horses and have your kids draw those numbers out of a hat until they’re all gone. Whichever child is holding the number of the gate out of which the winning horse starts wins! A good prize is a must, here parents. No “extra apple in the lunchbox” for this one. Instead go with “double dessert,” or “extended bedtime.” You’ll thank me later. Unless, of course, your kid’s a trainwreck the next day while the dentist drills out that cavity.

Who are you looking at? It’s not like I put a gun to your head.

5. Family pride: This one is a little Osborne tradition. Find a rival family. (I’m looking at you, Wilsons.) Have that family gather together and submit the horse of their choice. Gather your family and do the same. Whichever family’s horse finishes ahead of the other? Well, that horse just won their family a steak dinner, thank you very much. Gift cards don’t count. (Again, I’m looking at you, Wilsons.) That’s a sure fire way to get everyone into the race.

And when everyone’s into the race? Papa’s into the race. And that’s a good thing indeed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some research to do. I feel good about Uncle Mo. All I gotta to do now if figure out who’s gonna place and show.

Image: Wikipedia

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