I imagine that a trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. If you are one of the many, then a trip to the Louisville, Kentucky for the Run for the Roses will no doubt be an unforgettable experience. I’m going to give you some tips that will help you plan your trip to the most famous racetrack in the world. If you aren’t a big horse bettor then I recommend my beginner’s guide to betting the Derby so you will fill comfortable at the betting window.
The gates will open at 8am (ET) with post time for the first race at 10:30 am (ET). Post time for the Kentucky Oaks is 5:45pm (ET), while post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:24pm (ET).
There will be sign that says which items won’t be permitted into the racing facility. Be sure to review those signs before going in. All patrons are subject to magnetic wand scans before entering the track. General admission guests can enter through any gate, but those of you wishing to spend the day in the infield should enter through Gate 1 or Gate 3. Guests with reserved clubhouse seats enter at Gate 10 or Gate 17. Guests with reserved grandstand seats will enter through Gate 1.
There is no will call for the Kentucky Derby or the Kentucky Oaks. There is Will Call for normal racing days at Churchill Downs, which is located at Gates 10 and 17. The Box Office is loaced at Gate 1, which is durictly across from the Kentucky Derby Museum. You can purchase tickets at the Box Office for the day of the tickets, and also advance race dates. The Box Office is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm. They are also open on Fridays from 12 noon to 9 pm.
Everyone that goes to the Kentucky Derby needs to dress to impress. Ladies typically wear pastel-colored suits, dresses, or bold separates. Hats are the biggest fashion trend at the Derby, so please, don’t go without one. High heels look nice, but you may want to pack a pair of comfortable shoes such as flip flops for your walk back to the car.
Men traditionally wear sport suits, light-colored sport coats or navy sport coats, nice khakis or dress pants, light-colored shirts, and fashionable ties with matching accessories. Denim/jeans, shorts, tennis shoes or any athletic apparel is not permitted in the Trophy Room, Turf Club, Finish Line Suites, Jockey Club Suites, Aristides Room, Stakes Room, Turf Suits, Section 111 Trophy Suits, Trackside Village or Millionaire’s Row.
The infield is much less formal than the reserved seating areas. You can where almost anything you want into the infield as the goal is to be comfortable. Recommended infield attire includes blue jeans, shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, casual sundresses, and comfortable footwear. Because it typically rains at some point on the day of the Kentucky Derby, be sure to come prepared for it. Grab a jacket if rain is in the forecast because umbrellas are not allowed at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby. Bring a layer of sunscreen and sunglasses if forecasts are calling for sunny weather.
All parking at Churchill Downs is sold in advance and is revised for Kentucky Derby weekend. Churchill Downs has developed a new plan for taxi cab and bus drop-off and pick-up for patrons.
The new Bus Depot, which is locates outside of Gate 1, provides transportation to-and-from parking lots at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the Kentucky Exposition Center and shuttle locations in downtown Louisville.
The new Taxi Depot, which is located near the Wagner’s Pharmacy building at 4th and Central, will pick up and drop off patrons on race day. The new location is about a four-to-five minute walk for patrons exiting from Gates 1 and 17, but only seconds from the infield entrance at Gate 3.
Parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is $20, while parking at the Kentucky Exposition Central is only $8. A round-trip shuttle from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is $15, from downtown Louisville is $20, and from the Kentucky Exposition Center is $15.
And last but not least you want to make sure you win your bets while you are there. You can take a look at the latest odds and figure out who to take on your own. The easier option is to look at my free Derby predictions where I detail the horses that I like and why.