from bluebonnets to roses
Houston stars and notable names fascinate at Kentucky Derby with big bets, lavish looks, and divine dishes
As America — and the world — watched a charismatic Magesprint to victory at the Kentucky Derby, a host of Houstonians were cheering on the fastest two minutes in sports at Churchill Downs.
Notable names like Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, Reagan Bregman and her family, chef Aaron Bludorn and wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn (one of our recent power couples), and Pete Bell and his family and Cotton Holdings team made fashionable appearances — and big bets — at the 149th running.
The Bregmans' grand-slam run for the roses
Derby glam Reagan Bregman got to visit her filly she owns with husband Alex Bregman, Golden Sombrero. Photo courtesy of Reagan Bregman
“We decided to plan a girls trip,” Reagan Bregman tells CultureMap of the Derby day. “It was everyone’s first time and we all had so much fun. The energy at the Derby is electric.”
Fans may have noticed a guest appearance by impossibly adorable baby Knox Bregman, who was decked out in a newsboy hat, vest, pants, and a Gerber baby smile. Bregman was joined by her mother Laurice Howard, mother-in-law Jackie Bregman, and sister-in-law Jessica Bregman Galtney.
“I loved bringing my son on the trip and now I have all of those memories with him,” Reagan, who donned a chic fascinator, adds. Speaking of memories, Reagan enjoyed memorable moments watching the horse she owns with husband Alex Bregman.
“We got to visit our horses, meet our filly for the first time, and watch our horse, Golden Sombrero, race after the Derby,” Reagan — says of the Bregman Family Racing horse who came in third in a race held just after Derby. “Such an incredible weekend with family and friends.”
Return of the Mack
McIngvale made the most of his day, despite losing a reported $1.2 million on Angel of Empire less than an hour before the race. And as for losses, Mattress Mack, sporting a red sportcoat with a Derby-inspired lining, addressed his $1 million loss betting against NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the champion Kansas City Chiefs.
“You cost me millions betting against you,” Mack told the young superstar QB as the two shook hands.
"You cost me millions betting against you."
Mahomes and Mattress Mack linked up at the Kentucky Derby 😂 pic.twitter.com/gqMYe7FAC4
— br_betting (@br_betting) May 6, 2023
“Sorry about that one,” Mahomes replied with a laugh, “you gotta be with me next time!”
Meanwhile, Houston top chef Aaron Bludorn was a featured chef at Taste of Derby, a star-studded culinary showcase that happens the Thursday before the race. Bludorn, owner of the eponymous restaurant and seafood spot Navy Blue, even walked the event’s red carpet with the other chefs. He served the Smoked Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Chow Chow from Navy Blue.
“We loved it, had an amazing time,” Bludorn tells us. “Met tons of fun people and shared fun stories in between the races.”
A debonair Chef Bludorn with striking wife Victoria, who is wearing a Christine A. Moore hat from Tootsies.Photo courtesy of Aaron Bludorn
Bludorn attended the race with his wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn, who looked striking in her lavender floral dress and fascinator. “We did bet on the same horse, Derma [Sotogake], but I put a little money on Mage to place which was a nice payout.” Bludorn restaurant manager Cole Parry also put his money on Mage. “We saw him practicing on Thursday at Derby at Dawn and liked what we saw,” Bludorn adds.
Cotton goes Derby
Given that their over-the-top, historic Rodeo Cook-Off tent paid homage to the Derby, the folks at Cotton Holdings were a natural fit at Churchill Downs. Urban Cowboy Pete Bell, his family, rock star marketing/design guru Zinat Ahmed, and team did the Derby like only they could.
“When we were planning our trip for the 149th annual Kentucky Derby,” Ahmed tells us, “we wanted to take the traditions of this historic event and integrate them into the renowned Cotton Experience for our influencers and clients because we knew this would make for an unforgettable weekend.”
That meant custom illustrated itineraries and carefully planned events that highlighted the history of Louisville. Ahmed called on luxe custom artist Tara Martin and her DTLA Custom company (read our profile here) to create hand-painted hat boxes, cigar sleeves, and bottles of Blanton’s Bourbon.
Zinat Ahmed (wearing a hat from The Hat Girls) and Bailey Bell think pink at the Derby's First Turn Club.Photo courtesy of Cotton Holdings
Cotton Holdings participated in the Galt House Hotel’s “Call to the Post” event, and welcomed guests with a special cocktail party later in the evening. Friday called for donning pink and watching Kentucky Oaks races from their seats in the First Turn Club.
Bell, his family, and Ahmed were Derby-ready on race day. “While planning my outfits, I opted for delicate pastels to honor the traditional color palette of the Derby and lots of floral motifs to celebrate the ‘Run for the Roses,’ the always-immaculately styled Ahmed says.
As for betting, Ahmed notes that Derby veteran Bell Pete “calculates the odds and reviews statistics.” Ahmed, however, opts for a less numbers-driven approach: “I scan the book and pick the horse with my favorite name.”
Cheers to our Houston Derby delegates. Here’s hoping for an equally impressive outing at next year’s big 150.