Friday, June 5, 2015

Seven Tips for Attending the Kentucky Derby

So there was that one time that we went to the Kentucky Derby. Yes, the Boy and I were incredibly lucky to get to go to the Kentucky Derby with my mom and dad this year. It was amazing. And now there is the chance that we could have been there to watch a Triple Crown winner! Churchill Downs is such an incredible place. The history is incredible, and it was such a neat opportunity to watch another piece of its history. The fashion is amazing. As my farmer dad put it, "This is like the Oscars." And the horses definitely lived up to all the hype.

I've heard from so many of you that also hope to sometime attend, so I thought I would put together a few tips and tricks.

1. How do you get tickets? You get lucky. Ok, not quite, but kind of. How we got our tickets was my mom put in for a lottery through Church Hill Downs last fall, and then we were lucky enough to be drawn for the opportunity to purchase tickets. The tickets are not cheap, and they go very fast. We ended up sitting about 12 roles from the rail. Although, we were incredibly close to the action it was hard to see much of the big races. Of course there are other reserved seats with better views, but that means more money. Other options for tickets are to buy general admission and sit in the infield. Think tailgating with everything from fancy to trashy. There is a huge screen to watch all the races from and you can walk up the day of the event to buy these tickets.

Tailgating and horse racing from the infield.

We had tickets for the Oaks, which is the day before, and the Derby. During the Oaks the crowds were much smaller and we spent a lot of time walking around the grounds. We spent a lot of time at the paddock watching the horses being paraded and the jockeys mount up.

2. You've got to get a hat. It's the Derby, you definitely need to take the opportunity to buy a fancy hat. Originally, I had bought a head band style hat with a bunch of feathers on it. I love the look, plus I figured it would be easier for packing. However, our first day at the Oaks was REALLY hot, and I was very jealous of the shade my dad's cowboy hat was giving him. So I ended up buying a brimmed hat in the gift shop. I was sure that prices were going to be crazy, however I was shocked at how reasonable the prices were and the selection was awesome.

3. Forgot the heels. You are going to end up walking a lot, like. I am not joking. Even if you are cabbing it the cab drivers can't get close so you are going to do a ton of walking just to get to the grounds. I was very glad that I had packed sandals to wear on day two. You could tell the veterans that had packed extra flats in the person and had heels in their hands on the way home.

4. Save your pennies. The Derby is really expensive. We paid $230 a night for a Super 8 and we booked before Christmas. Drinks aren't cheap either. Plus, you might want to do some betting. And as I mentioned before if you buy reserved seat the tickets are pricey. Just keep reminding yourself it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Also, all of the food and drink stands only take cash, and you'll need cash to bet.

5. Pack a lunch. I mentioned that the Derby is expensive however you can bring in your own boxed lunch, water and pop. All the details and guidelines are on the Churchill Downs website.

6. Bet early. As the day progresses there will be more and more people betting. I stood in line for more than 45 minutes in-between race 8 and 9 to place my bets on the race 11 aka the Derby Race.

7. Find the love of your life. This tip comes from the couple that was seated in front of us. They met last year at the Derby, and five months later she was moving across the county to live in California. My mom was convinced he was going to propose in front of us. That didn't happen. She said, "Bring your single friends, and just walk around. I guarantee you'll meet someone." I'm lucky I had my love with me!

Do you think American Pharaoh can do it? Who will you be betting on?


  1. Who knew it would be so expensive? But like you say, it's a once in a lifetime experience and I'm glad you both got to enjoy it! Thanks for sharing your tips. :)

  2. The derby is definitely a must do once on my bucket list, but I definitely need to save up a little more so when I do a derby trip it can be enjoyed!

  3. I'm so jealous! I want to go so bad! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I love the blue hat!!! It's very cute!!!

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