ST. CLOUD – At the White Horse restaurant here, it seemed everybody had a horse in the race — or at least a close connection to a horse in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Of the 100 or so patrons gathered at the downtown St. Cloud bar, at least three dozen were related to the owners of Zandon, who finished third after being named the morning line favorite to win at 3-1 odds.

"The frenzy is building," said Frank Vouk of St. Stephen before the race. Vouk, donned in a suit and top hat, is brother to Jill Vouk-Drown, the wife of Zandon's owner, Jeff Drown.

The owner of the White Horse restaurant, Jackie Lee, is Jill's sister. Lee said she first planned to have a party at her sister's house while the family visited Kentucky for the race.

"Then I thought, 'Wait a second — we can have a big shindig at the White Horse,' " she said.

The restaurant served mint juleps and a special "Zandon" drink — a dark and stormy to represent the dark brown horse — derby-themed food, trivia and prizes for the best derby hats.

Drown, of St. Cloud, attended the Kentucky Derby for the first time this year after deciding long ago he wouldn't go until he had a horse in the race. He brought with him to Churchill Downs several friends, relatives and a large number of employees from his contracting and real estate business.

Not only was Saturday's race a long time coming for Drown, it was a special moment for the state, too: It had been 20 years since a horse with Minnesota connections had run in the Kentucky Derby.

Becky Fiedler of St. Cloud, a cousin of Jill, wore a dark blue dress in honor of Drown's stable silks — royal blue with five white stars, one for each of his kids — and a flouncy blue hat.

While she typically watches the race each year, Saturday was the first time Fiedler dressed to the nines for the occasion.

"We want to feel like we're there," Fiedler said. "I have butterflies. I'm so excited for them."

Star Tribune staff writer Rachel Blount contributed to this story.