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WATCH | Derby Day takes an army for food, drink

by Bryan Rice | April 1, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
Oaklawn Vice President of Marketing Chris Ho speaks at the Mainline Sports Bar Wednesday. - Photo by Lance Porter of The Sentinel-Record

In the midst of the crowd's roar while thoroughbreds speed around the dirt track on Oaklawn's biggest racing day of the year, the smell of horses, bloody marys and corned beef will fill the air.

"I have been here since mid-July, so I have a couple of months in before racing season started," Oaklawn Vice President of Marketing Chris Ho said. "I am very excited about the first Derby. Derby as a spectator in the past, but derby behind the scenes is going to be a new experience for me. I am very excited."

The Arkansas Derby is today, and post time is 6:24 p.m.

Watching 13 races in one day will build a thirst and an appetite.

"There is a lot of preparation," Ho said. "We are ordering massive amounts of food ahead of time. We order corned beef actually by the ton."

Since 1904, the Daily Double Deli has handcrafted corned beef and Reuben sandwiches.

The corned beef is used to make Oaklawn's signature sandwich, the corned beef sandwich, which comes simply with bread and corned beef. Fans can dress up their signature delight with mayo, mustard or horseradish for some zing.

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"It takes an army," Ho said. "It takes exactly 15 kitchens going all at the same time here at Oaklawn to feed all the people that are here for derby day."

Oaklawn's army consists of 1,200 employees that will all coordinate for the Arkansas Derby.

"I like the burgers at the Mainline," Ho said. "That is our newest restaurant. I like the Reuben sandwiches as well. Beverage of choice is beer, but not on race day."

The Oaklawn Jockey Club offers everything from street tacos, fish and chips and desserts.

Oaklawn has much more to offer than just corned beef and Reuben sandwiches. With all of its food options, patrons are bound to get thirsty.

Gates open at 11 a.m., so maybe a bloody mary is on the menu to kick-start a fan's race day. The bloody mary is one of the most popular cocktails at Oaklawn.

"The bloody mary hands down," Ho said. "We sell 7,000 bloody marys on derby day. We have got a lot going out. There is a lot of people eating here on the property."

After the bloody marys, guests might venture over to the Mainline Sports Bar or one of the other many options Oaklawn has for a cold refreshing beer.

"It takes a lot of beer," Ho said. "Michelob Ultra is our top selling beer. We have ordered nine pallets of Michelob Ultra in preparation of today. That is almost 15,000 bottles of beer."

The 15,000 bottles just solely represents the unimaginable gallons of Michelob Ultra specifically. Not to worry, Oaklawn also has several domestic, import and craft brew options if Michelob Ultra is not a fan's beverage of choice.

There are still plenty of other draft, bottle and can options around the facility.

The Carousel is another fan favorite pit stop for race goers, featuring a beautiful overhead carousel, top-shelf drinks and delicious eats in the racing area.

"We are expecting over 60,000," Ho said. "If you take the population of Hot Springs, that is nearly double the population of Hot Springs that will be here on property at Oaklawn."

Oaklawn also has family friendly options with its menus.

For the 87th running of the Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn is more than prepared to keep its guests well taken care of during the races.

Print Headline: WATCH | Derby Day takes an army for food, drink


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