The trademark garland of roses that are presented to the Kentucky Derby winning jockey as he or she returns to the winner’s circle have been a tradition since 1932 when the first garland was presented after the 58th running of the Kentucky Derby which was won by Burgoo King. Since 1987, the garland has been annually made by the Kroger Company.
Kroger’s master floral designers individually sew on 400 Freedom roses to make the garland of roses that will be draped over the Kentucky Derby winner minutes after victory. The 2 ½ yard (7 ½ feet long) and 12 inch wide garland weighs 40 pounds. A day or two before the Derby the garland is made by a team of Kroger employees in one of Kroger’s Louisville locations. The public is invited to stop in at the designated location and watch as the garland is created. The Middletown Kroger location will reportedly be the site for this year's garland creation.
The winning jockey will receive a bouquet of five dozen long-stemmed roses, wrapped with ten yards of red ribbon.
Over 2,100 roses adorn the Kentucky Derby’s horseshoe shaped winner’s circle and 250 rose bushes can be found around the Churchill Downs grounds. Matt Bizzell, Director of Horticulture at Churchill Downs, and his team will be planting flowers in the Churchill Downs winner's circle beginning at 10:30 a.m. today and you can bet that some of those flowers will be roses.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Kinetic