Making a Case: Best Food, Cocktail, and Fashion of 2019 for Fan Choice Awards

Pop Culture
America's Best Racing/Penelope P. Miller/Eclipse Sportswire

America’s Best Racing’s inaugural Fan Choice Awards are currently underway, and fans of Thoroughbred racing have until Nov. 20 to get their votes in for a variety of categories, including three focusing on the lifestyle of a day at the races.

Have an opinion on the tastiest track fare? How about iconic cocktails or high fashion? Make your opinions known by voting here.

Now, we make a case for each contender in the food, beverage, and fashion categories:

Best Food

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Burgoo – Keeneland Race Course

Whether it’s a crisp fall day or a cool April afternoon, a bowl of burgoo at Keeneland is incredibly comforting. A traditional Kentucky stew comprised of beef, vegetables, and potatoes, Keeneland’s signature dish is a savory treat that’s unique to the Blue Grass State.


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Carved Sandwiches – Santa Anita Park

A day at Santa Anita isn’t complete without one of its legendary carved sandwiches. Made from the fresh meat of your choosing and served on pillowy bread, it’s the perfect lunch to enjoy while watching the races in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains.


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Clocker’s Corner Egg Sandwich – Santa Anita Park

There’s no place in the world quite like Santa Anita’s Clocker’s Corner: It’s a mecca for some of the biggest names in California horse racing, where trainers like Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill watch their Thoroughbreds train in the morning. Clocker’s is also one of the best places to grab breakfast anywhere in L.A., with Rosie’s mouth-watering egg sandwich topping the list of delectable treats.


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Corned Beef – Oaklawn Park

If you’re heading to Hot Springs, Ark., for a day at the races, come hungry: That’s because Oaklawn’s signature corned beef sandwich is one of the biggest, most delicious lunches in all of sports. It’s been a fan favorite for more than a century, and there’s a reason people flock to the track for this specific dish. 


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Fish Tacos – Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

If you’re in Southern California, you need to eat fish tacos – we’re pretty sure that’s a law at this point. And Del Mar’s version is outstanding: served at the 17 Hands restaurant and bar next to the saddling paddock, the signature tacos are delicate and delicious.


Courtesy Hattie's Chicken

Hattie’s Chicken – Saratoga Race Course

You don’t necessarily think of fried chicken and upstate New York simultaneously, but you will once you try the Hattie’s Chicken at Saratoga. Crisp, juicy, and flavorful, it’s the best fried chicken in the game of racing.


Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

Roast Beef – Woodbine

Toronto’s Woodbine is home to the holy grail of roast beef sandwiches: Served on a soft onion roll or rye bread, this sandwich is hand carved from whole top round, topped with gravy and optional grilled onions and horseradish, and complemented by a side dill pickle spear.  It’s heaven on a platter!


Courtesy Saratoga Chips

Saratoga Potato Chips – Saratoga Race Course

Potato chips were literally invented in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., so it makes sense that the “Summer Place to Be” offers up the perfect take on the ubiquitous snack. If you love your snacks salty, crunchy, and portable, then you already know that the Saratoga potato chips are your fan choice.


Starting Gate Stone Crab Claws – Gulfstream Park

South Florida’s most famous delicacy may be its stone crab claws: local to the shores of Florida, they’re only in season in the winter months and Gulfstream Park offers some of the most succulent examples of the dish in their Starting Gate Stone Crab and Oyster Bar. What better way to celebrate warm winter months in South Florida than the local seafood?


Best Cocktail

Eclipse Sportswire

Black-Eyed Susan – Preakness – Pimlico Race Course

When you raise a glass to the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, it better be filled with a Black-Eyed Susan. A mix of bourbon, vodka, and peach schnapps with dashes of orange juice and sour mix, it’s a refreshing a potent way to toast the Preakness Stakes.


Courtesy Del Mar

Del Margarita – Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Margaritas are the essence of summer in a cup, and Del Mar’s take on the classic embodies the fun of a day at the races where the turf meets the surf. Made with a double shot of tequila, margarita mix and a splash of Patrón Citrónge, and an accompanying lime wedge, they’re an iconic addition to a day at the races at old Del Mar.


Courtesy Keeneland

Keeneland Breeze – Keeneland Race Course

If you’re having a cocktail in Kentucky, it better have bourbon in it. For those looking for a new twist on an old favorite, the Keeneland Breeze is a delicious take on Kentucky’s native spirit. The Breeze is a concoction of Maker’s Mark bourbon, orange liqueur, and ginger ale, and it’s a fan favorite of Lexingtonians.


Eclipse Sportswire

Lily – Kentucky Oaks – Churchill Downs

The Oaks Lily may not be as famous as its Derby counterpart, but it’s every bit as delicious. Vodka, sweet and sour mix, Triple Sec, and cranberry juice combine to make a drink that’s both pretty to look at and delicious to imbibe.


Eclipse Sportswire

Mint Julep – Kentucky Derby – Churchill Downs

Of all of the iconic food and drink in sports, the Kentucky Derby’s mint julep is arguably the most famous. A potent combination of bourbon, mint, sugar, crushed ice, and a splash of water, just the sight of a julep cup invokes thoughts of the first Saturday in May and Derby glory.


Courtesy Oaklawn Park

Oaklawn Bloody Mary – Oaklawn Park

Whether you’re fending off the aftereffects of a big night on the town in Hot Springs or you’re welcoming a great day the races, the bloody mary is a must for those looking for a cocktail at Oaklawn. The drinks are spicy and strong, and iconic to the Arkansas track.


Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

Saratoga Lemonade - Saratoga Race Course

What’s more refreshing than an ice-cold lemonade on a summer day? The beverage of choice at Saratoga features hand-squeezed lemons, and you can enjoy the lemonade plain or spice it up by adding vodka and other flavors. There’s something for everyone at Saratoga’s lemonade stands!


Best Racing Fashion Event

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Blue Grass Stakes – Keeneland Race Course

The Blue Grass Stakes is one of the last stops on the road to the Kentucky Derby, and Lexington takes the pageantry of racing seriously, with spring fashion accented by tasteful hats for both men and women.


Eclipse Sportswire

Breeders’ Cup World Championships

The racing world comes together at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, and this is where you’ll see some of the most fashion-forward looks at the track. Style from Europe, South and North America, Australia, Asia, and Africa all converge at the Longines Prize of Elegance competition held on both days of the Breeders’ Cup, making it one of the most stylish events in all of horse racing.


Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

Del Mar Opening Day – Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Big hats, sunglasses, suits, and dresses define opening day at Del Mar. Everyone’s dressed to impress, and you can check out the coolest headwear around at the track’s annual hat contest.


Eclipse Sportswire

Kentucky Derby – Churchill Downs

The Kentucky Derby is synonymous with big hats and bow ties, so it’s no surprise that the first Saturday in May is a finalist for the most fashionable Fan Choice Award. From A-list celebs on the red carpet to the party in the infield, dressing up is a Kentucky Derby tradition on par with mint juleps and winning tickets.


Eclipse Sportswire

Kentucky Oaks – Churchill Downs

Pink is the order of the day at the Kentucky Oaks as patrons don their finest pastels to welcome spring and raise awareness of breast and ovarian cancer. The Kentucky Oaks has emerged as a style juggernaut in the last few years, with the festive and inspiring breast and ovarian cancer survivors’ parade as the crown of the afternoon.  


Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

Queen’s Plate Racing Festival – Woodbine

Toronto shows off its style savvy at Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate Festival. The Queen’s Plate is the first race of the Canadian Triple Crown, and the event has a fashion scene akin to the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, and the Dubai World Cup.


Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

Travers Stakes – Saratoga Race Course

Known as the Midsummer Derby, the Travers Stakes is the biggest afternoon on the Saratoga schedule. Fashionistas from New York, Boston, Montreal, and beyond all converge in upstate New York to make Travers Stakes day a spectacle of sports and style that’s not to be missed.

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