For horse racing fans around the world, the first Saturday in May represents one of the most important days of the year: the Kentucky Derby. Having taken place on back-to-back days in May since 1875, the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby have the distinction of owning the longest tenure among annually held sporting events, and are the only races included in the US Triple Crown to be held at the original sites since inception. From the classic Mint Julep drinks to the spectacular hats, take part in the rich history and tradition that makes the Kentucky Derby one of the premier live events of the year.
Kentucky Derby Festival
For locals and any other out-of-state visitors that choose to head to Louisville early, the Kentucky Derby Festival has taken place during the two weeks preceding the Derby every year since 1956, and includes the largest fireworks display in North America, hot-air balloon and steamboat races, a marathon, countless concerts and sporting events, and the Pegasus Parade, which is one of the largest parades in America. For admission to all of these events and more, purchase a Pegasus Pin for $5 at one of over 1,000 locations in Louisville.
Kentucky Derby General Information
For the safety of everyone, Churchill Downs has established a list of items that are prohibited from the venue. Fans will not be allowed to bring in alcoholic beverages of any kind, whether it be in the infield or the grandstand seating areas. Outside coolers are no longer permitted in the infield, however, Styrofoam coolers and ice will be available at several infield purchase points.
Kentucky Oaks Tickets – May 3
Run on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, this Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old fillies is held annually at Churchill Downs. The filly that can race around the 1 1/8 mile track the fastest will be adorned with an arrangement of lilies, which are famously referred to as the “Lillies for Fillies.” Along with the garland, the winner will claim the Kentucky Oaks Trophy and a $600,000 purse.
The 2013 Kentucky Oaks, which will be held on May 3, will mark the 139th running of the event, and will likely attract approximately 100,000 attendees, as it has done routinely in years past. This year will also mark the fifth annual Pink Out, in which attendees are encouraged to wear pink to support survivors of cancer. Also, before the race, attendees can watch the Survivors’ Parade, which will consist of 139 cancer survivors proudly circling the Churchill Downs main track before the Oaks Race.
Kentucky Derby Tickets – May 4
Locals and out-of-state fans alike will travel to Churchill Downs for the 2013 Kentucky Derby on May 4 to watch the most physically impressive horses in the world compete for racing’s biggest prize. Trainers who dream of winning the US Triple Crown must first prepare their Thoroughbreds for this 1 ¼ mile trip around the legendary Louisville racetrack. Two of the most exciting weeks in Kentucky are capped off by “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” in which the top three-year-old Thoroughbreds in all of horse racing compete for a victory in the first leg of the Triple Crown. The “Run for the Roses” is a 10-furlong gallop on Churchill Downs’ historic dirt track. The governor of Kentucky awards the winner of the race with an astounding blanket of roses, as well as the Kentucky Derby Trophy. Besides the beautiful roses and shiny trophy, the winner also receives the first-place share of the $2 million purse, which is nearly $1.5 million.
One colt that locals will keep a close eye on is Goldencents, a three-year-old Thoroughbred owned by local celebrity Rick Pitino, who recently coached the University of Louisville to the 2013 NCAA National Championship in April. Pitino’s horse qualified after taking first place in the Santa Anita Derby, and will likely be a favorite of Louisville natives.
2013 Kentucky Derby Field and Post Positions
1 - Black Onyx
2 - Oxbow
3 - Revolutionary
4 - Golden Soul
5 - Normandy Invasion
6 - Mylute
7 - Giant Finish
8 - Goldencents
9 - Overanalyze
10 - Palace Malice
11 - Lines of Battles
12 - Itsmyluckyday
12 - Falling Sky
14 - Verrazano
15 - Charming Kitten
16 - Orb
17 - Will Take Charge
18 - Frac Daddy
19 - Java’s War
20 - Vyjack
Churchill Downs Venue Information
This world-famous racetrack officially opened in 1875, and began hosting the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks in the same year. While this beautiful venue hosts some of the best Thoroughbred action throughout the season, there is nothing like the atmosphere inside Churchill Downs on Derby Day. With a massive Kentucky Derby infield where the rowdier fans can mingle, as well as numerous grandstand sections for well-dressed men and women to show off their lavish outfits and outlandish hats, and suites for the highest spenders to find shade from the sun, Churchill Downs has something for everyone on its biggest day of the year.
Churchill Downs Parking, Transportation, and Hotels
Reserved Churchill Downs parking is available through Vivid Seats in the form of premium parking passes for valet or a shuttle service. Those without reserved parking passes at the venue can park at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium or the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Also available is a Miller Transportation Shuttle Bus to Churchill Downs from either location. Please note that the Bus Depot for Shuttle Pick-ups and Drop-offs is located outside of Gate 1.
While the Galt House Hotel serves as the official hotel of Churchill Downs, Louisville offers an array of options at which traveling horse racing fans to stay, including the Four Points by Sheraton Louisville Airport, (2950 Crittenden Drive), Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Kentucky Expo Center (830 Phillips Lane), and America’s Best Value Inn Louisville (1735 Stewart Avenue).
Louisville Tourist Attractions
If visitors from out of town are looking for attractions other than the exciting action taking place at Churchill Downs, they will quickly find out that Louisville offers several family-friendly options. The city has no shortage of great museums, as baseball enthusiasts can check out the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and tourists who just can’t get enough horse racing history can head over to the Kentucky Derby Museum. Thrill-seekers in the family can zip-line at the Louisville Mega Cavern, and the Muhammad Ali Center offers plenty to those looking to gain from increased cultural perspective.