Arts & Culture

Justify Was Special from the Start

Long before he won the Triple Crown, the Kentucky-bred horse showed promise. Plus more news from around the South.

The following is excerpted from Garden & Gun’s free weekly Talk of the South newsletter, which highlights the best of what’s happening across the South. Sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox.

Southern-Bred Speed

Photo: Associated Press

Justify, with jockey Mike Smith, became the thirteenth Triple Crown winner after his victory at the Belmont Stakes.

If you watched the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, you saw Justify, a three-year-old Thoroughbred, win not just the race, but also the Triple Crown. It was a moment of pride for the Bluegrass State, since the chestnut colt was bred and raised by John Gunther and his daughter, Tanya, at Glennwood Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. Even as a foal, Justify was cheeky and ready for action, Tanya told the racing site “It could be hot, humid, and sweaty and he would still be like, ‘C’mon already. Let’s do this!’”

Photo: Courtesy of Glennwood Farm

Justify standing for the first time as a foal in 2015.

The smart money has been on Justify all along. He sold for a pricey $500,000 as a yearling, but ESPN estimated that his value jumped to at least $75 million the day he won the Belmont. He also proved once again that “Kentucky breeds winners!” as Governor Matt Bevin tweeted, becoming the tenth Triple Crown winner from the commonwealth. With all thirteen Triple Crown winners now bred in Southern states, Justify reminded the world of something we’ve known all along—that some things are just better when they’re made in the South.

A Royal Welcome

San Antonio and New Orleans are both marking their 300th anniversaries this year, and what better way to celebrate than with a visit fit for a king—and queen? Both cities will host King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, who will tour the former Spanish colonies of Louisiana and Texas later this week.

The royals will begin in New Orleans on Thursday, move on to San Antonio on Saturday, and then head to Washington, D.C., for a visit with the president and first lady early next week. Among the San Antonio highlights for Their Majesties will be a dinner at the historic Pearl Brewery, prepared by standout local chefs Johnny Hernandez, Elizabeth Johnson, and Steven McHugh, along with a visit to the new Tricentennial exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art. The exhibition includes masterpieces by El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya on loan from museums in Madrid until they’re returned to Spain in September.

Kentucky Faux Chicken

We don’t really know exactly what constitutes “meat-free fried chicken,” and we’re not sure we want to. There’s word that the British division of KFC is working on a vegetarian version of its famous staple that it plans to add to menus there.

The no-bird-no-problem approach is tied to new nutrition guidelines in Britain, where Public Health England recently recommended that adults eat about 400 calories at breakfast and 600 calories each at lunch and dinner—substantially less than your average “Extra Crispy” meal from Colonel Sanders. Britain is also in the middle of a meat-free and vegan food boom that is pushing restaurants to offer more vegetarian options. If all goes according to KFC’s plan, diners across the pond should be able to order dark meat, light meat, or no meat at all fried in eleven secret herbs and spices by the end of the year. No news yet if that non-chicken chicken will fly over here.

In Case You Missed It on G&G

What makes a great barbecue sauce? James Beard Award–winning pit master Rodney Scott shares three of his secrets. … Lauren Northup takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of Biltmore Estate, one of the most-visited homes in the country. You’ll want to read it before your next visit. … Big baseball stadiums like Fenway and Camden Yards are fine, but for novelist Wiley Cash, it’s a small dusty park in Gastonia, North Carolina, that remains closest to his heart.

Calling All Artisans

We’re now accepting entries for the 2018 Made in the South Awards. We’re looking for the best Southern-made products in six categories—food, drink, style, crafts, home, and outdoors. The winners and three runners-up in each category will appear in our December/January issue, and one overall winner will claim a $10,000 prize. Get more info and enter here.


June 14–17: Eureka Springs Blues Weekend brings four days of concerts all around the Arkansas town. Soak in nationally renowned performers including Selwyn Birchwood and John Nemeth along with plenty of local talent.

June 15: Bull Durham night at the Durham Bulls’ home game. Marking the 30th anniversary of the classic film (the best Southern sports flick of all time?), the event will include props from the movie, throwback uniforms from the Crash and Nuke days, and hopefully someone spouting Bull Durham quotes.

June 15–17: The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, throws its annual antique boat bash, the mid-Atlantic’s largest gathering of restored and preserved boats.

June 15–24: History buffs unite at the Chautauqua History Alive Festival, a ten-day live-action gathering in Greenville, South Carolina. Meet Winston Churchill, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, and other historical figures as they tell their stories and answer audience questions.

June 16: In honor of the Inn at Little Washington’s 40th anniversary, legendary chef Patrick O’Connell is throwing a garden party at Mount Vernon, complete with a Revolutionary-era menu planned “to take you back to your great-great-great-grandmother’s time, when chicken tasted like chicken.”

June 17: The annual Killis Melton’s Ice Cream Crank-Off in McKinney, Texas. Like a chili cook-off, but for ice cream. Chocolate and vanilla go up against Fireball cinnamon and s’mores. Arrive hungry and say, “Crank it!”

June 19: After nearly a year of restoration and repairs, Flannery O’Connor’s Milledgeville, Georgia, home, Andalusia, is reopening to the public. Tour the grounds that inspired the Southern Gothic writer and meet the farm’s newest residents: Astor and Mrs. Shortley, two peacocks named for characters in The Displaced Person, one of O’Connor’s most beloved short stories.

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