The thoroughbred horse race takes place each year at the Churchill Downs racecourse. It is a flat race and the highlight of a two-week long Kentucky Derby Festival. There are a series of races throughout the day, attracting up to 150,000 spectators. The Kentucky Derby takes place on a 1.4mile dirt track. Riders compete for a prize fund of 2-million US dollars, with fans around the world spending much more trying to bet on the winning horse. The first race took place in 1875 and the track record stands at just under 2-minutes. The derby has often been described as one of the “Greatest Bucket-list Sporting Events" in America.
Fly into Louisville International Airport which is 40 minutes away from the racecourse, or take the longer drive from Nashville. There are a number of pick up and drop off points, with additional buses laid on to ensure everyone arrives on time. Gates open from 8am. There will be a total of 14 races taking place, starting at 10.30am and finishing at around 8pm. Various ways of purchasing tickets are available, with prices varying greatly. General admission starts from $60 with grandstand seats available from $400. Derby experience ticket packages will cost considerably more.
Review the website for the ticket option that suits your budget. If you’re sitting in the grandstand, take a look at the layout to help choose your seat. While there is no strict dress code, race day goers often dress to impress. Treat yourself to a new outfit and avoid being turned away from any VIP areas. It wouldn’t be a day at the races without placing a bet. Take only the money you wish to spend, study the horse and riders form and bet responsibly. There are plenty of food and drink options available, or upgrade to a personalized hospitality package.
Choose from a wide range of houses, apartments, Bed and Breakfasts, spare rooms and other private rentals close to Churchill Downs Racetrack. If you are staying elsewhere in Louisville, there are plenty of drop-off points for buses and taxis organised specifically for the Kentucky Derby.
Enjoy a drink on the Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail. Delve deep into the caves at Louisville Mega Cavern. The Slugger Museum and Factory provides an insight into the world of baseball, or take in a game at Slugger Field. There’s also the Muhammad Ali Center dedicated to the legendary boxer.
Find out more about the Kentucky Derby, including: ticket information, race times, maps and directions, the Kentucky Derby Festival and museum, details on the horses and Derby week, planning your visit, dress codes, food/drink and much more at the official website.
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