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Cinco de Mayo and The Kentucky Derby: The French Connection

Cinco de Mayo and The Kentucky Derby: The French Connection

Published: 05/05/2011 by Janet

» Holidaily News

OK, first some fun facts.

Fun Fact #1:  Cinco de Mayo is NOT Independence Day in Mexico.  It celebrates the victory of a  much smaller Mexican army over an invading French army in a battle near Puebla, Mexico in 1862.


Fun Fact #2:  The Kentucky Derby is held in Louisville, KY named after King Louis XVI of France.  The French backed the Confederacy during the American Civil War.  Still seeking influence in America, the French saw the Civil War as their opportunity to get their "pied" (foot) in the door, so to speak. 

The French, under the rule of Emperor Napoleon III, intended to take control of Mexico and continue on to help the Confederate Army win the American Civil War. This was aimed at gaining influence (if not outright control) of “The South” for France.

In the decade after the conclusion of the Civil War, Col. M. Lewis Clark was responsible for building Churchill Downs and designing The Kentucky Derby which was first run in 1875.

So I’m figuring that if the Mexicans had not slowed down the French at Puebla we would not be celebrating Cinco de Mayo but "Cinq de Mai", and instead of running the Kentucky Derby, we would have the The Derby de France in the Confederate State of Kentucky. If there was no Cinco de Mayo, there might  be a very different Kentucky Derby, and THAT is their "French Connection".

So, this Saturday mix it all up. Put on a flowery sombrero, pick a horse, have a burrito and a bourbon. Do you think there is a  mariachi version of My Old Kentucky Home?