Kentucky Derby 2016: Hats, horses, odds (and the odd names)

Story highlights

  • The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby is this weekend
  • Find out what horses have the best odds, and what you need to make your own mint julep

(CNN)It's a wonderful time of year. The weather's getting warmer, school's almost out and across the United States, people are breaking out their fancy hats and fresh mint springs in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.

Even if you're nowhere near Kentucky and you know nothing about horse racing, you may still be thinking of tuning in (or even dressing up a little). Here's everything you need to know to get that solid Derby experience.
    When is the Kentucky Derby?
    The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, May 7. Post time (the start of the race) is at 6:34 p.m. ET.
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    Where is the Kentucky Derby?
    Well, Kentucky! Specifically, Churchill Downs in Louisville.
    How can I watch it?
    The whole shebang will be aired on NBC, with coverage starting at 4 p.m. ET.
    How many horses are running?
    There are 22 horses running in the Kentucky Derby, each with a name more excellent than the last. There's Mor Spirit and Mo Tom, Danzing Candy and Cherry Wine, Creator and Exaggerator; it's really a colorful field.
    Who has the best odds?
    The overwhelming favorite to win the race is a horse named Nyquist, a 3-year-old colt from Kentucky. As of mid-afternoon Saturday, his odds to win the Derby stood at 2-1.
    Is Nyquist by chance named after an active NHL player?
    He totally is. Nyquist (the horse) was purchased by a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan and named after Gustav Nyquist (the Swedish hockey player). Nyquist Sr. is excited to see Nyquist Jr. perform.
    I know nothing about horse racing but still want to waste some money by randomly betting on a horse. Which one has the most excellent name?
    We'd have to recommend Suddenbreakingnews, for obvious reasons.
    Why do they have such weird names, anyway?
    Horse naming is a serious business. The Jockey Club has tight regulations on what kind of names can be used. For instance, names can only be 18 characters (including spaces), they can't have certain artistic or cultural implications and they can't be named after real people unless the namer gets permission. Plus, once a name is used, it can't be used again for a long time, if ever. You usually have to wait several horse generations to reuse a name, and names that belonged to big winners or Hall of Famers can never be used again at all. After hundreds of years and thousands upon thousands of horses, it's no wonder you have to get a little creative.
    Who won last year?
    THAT would be Triple Crown winner and all-around good horse American Pharoah. American Pharoah won 2015's Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, making him the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
    How to make a mint julep
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    Why do I keep hearing about mint juleps and how can I acquire one as soon as possible?
    Mint juleps are the traditional drink served at Churchill Downs during the Derby, and they are delicious. There's an official Derby recipe, but if you don't care for exactitude just mix yourself up some sugar, bourbon, water, and crushed mint. Pour over ice, and enjoy the good life.
    Why do ladies wear fancy, view-obstructing hats?
    It's a Southern thing. More than that, wearing an fabulous, obnoxious hat is thought to bring good luck (at least, to you and whatever horse you have the most money on).