This Saturday’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby will be conducted like every other sporting event in the age of the COVID-19. Namely, without any fans present. Usually, the Derby is held on the first Saturday in May. This year the Kentucky Derby will go off promptly four months late. While Gildshire will be perched in front of the big screen for the big race, we know that the Derby is an in-person Bucket List item for racing fans or sports fans in general. It also takes more than six months to get it right. So, today we decided to offer some helpful advice to those who would like to see The Run for the Roses next year. (Before you read on, though, make a hotel reservation now!)
Plan your parking strategy
This may sound like an odd way to begin a discussion about a horse race, but hear us out. Almost a quarter of a million people attend the Kentucky Derby every year. So, it goes without saying that this is a hot Southern mess of cars, vans, Ubers, trucks, limousines, and pedestrians. They are all streaming toward Churchill Downs. Folks who live anywhere near the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs rent out space in their front yard. Sometimes their price is very reasonable, while others price yard-space at a number that is almost comical. Can you say $300.00? Show up early, and circle the area. Patience should net you a place to park for $30-$70. Uber or Lyft is another option, but surge pricing will result in prices five times higher than the usual rate.
Dress the part
Here is where the fun begins, and it begins weeks or months ahead of time. Suffice it to say, you can have a great time at the Derby without placing a bet or seeing a horse! Look at the hats! Some of them are works of performance art! This gives you Carte Blanche to sport a hat of your own. Remember, this is the South, and the weather can be quite warm (if it isn’t raining buckets!). A simple white, wide-brimmed hat can look amazing with the right accompaniment. Or, go for the gusto with something like the hat pictured below.
Find your scene
The Derby features a different kind of party vibe, depending on where you congregate. Your financial circumstances may preclude you from hanging in Millionaire Row at the very top. But there are places in the grandstand and clubhouse levels that offer a great view. Be honest, though. If you have come to Churchill to party heartier than you should, the raucous infield is the place for you. It doesn’t include a reserved spot, so it is come when you can and find an empty patch of grass. A general admission ticket for the infield is the most affordable option, at about $60.00 if you plan way ahead. Bring box lunches. From the infield, you are a hike to the concession stands, and a “Derby Day” boxed lunch from a Louisville deli is way better than what you will buy at a concession stand. Remember to tell the delicatessen that they are for the Derby. They will pack them in compliant containers.
Get your gamble on!
The Kentucky Derby without a wager is like a ham sandwich without mustard. It’s…fine, but not nearly as good as it should be. To get some action on the big race, you have two options. You can stand in line at the counter at the track itself. (That is a fun option, as it gives you the sounds and smells of Churchill Downs) Or, you can punch up some betting sites on your smartphone. These sites include tvg.com, xpressbet.com, or one of many sportsbooks, such as 5dimes.eu.
Obviously, the smartphone options work just as well if you watch the race on television, as millions do every year. But, if this is your first time at the big race, get to Louisville as early as possible and soak up some ‘cue and some bourbon before race day. Then have the best time ever at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. Everyone should do that, at least once.