Skip to content

5 Tips For Your First Trip to the Kentucky Derby

If the Kentucky Derby — known as the “most exciting two minutes in sports” — is on your bucket list, then grab your fancy suits and outrageous hats! This year could be the year you finally cross the Derby off your list. But before you head off to the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, we want to help you be prepared.

Check out these Derby tips for the best experience.

  • Get There Friday for The Kentucky Oaks!

    To kick off your weekend, consider attending the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. The Kentucky Oaks is an annual horse race for three-year-old fillies (female horses) and is always held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. Make sure to buy a ticket and plan out your outfit in the color pink (in honor of cancer survivors and dedication to finding a cure for breast and ovarian cancer).

  • Decide Where To Stay

    With all the excitement and fun, you’ll definitely need some sleep! Unfortunately, Louisville is not a huge city and has limited hotel capacity so you may want to consider renting an Airbnb. This may also be a cheaper option, too, since rates are fairly high during the Derby weekend. Depending on location, Airbnb can be the perfect match for your budget and cheaper than a hotel or just as high (or higher) in price than a hotel. If you’re going with a large group of people, sharing the cost may work out in your favor.

    And, remember, to skip the stress and ship your bags to your destination with LugLess, and on your way home simply drop your bags off at a UPS or FedEx store. Then enjoy brunch and sightseeing without lugging your bags around!

  • Dress The Part

    Fashion is a huge part of the Kentucky Derby experience, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. For ladies, your accessories will be the most important part of your outfit. Keep your dresses simple — a solid color or a nice spring floral pattern. Let your hat enhance your overall look. It’s fine to wear heels but bring a pair of flats with you as the day will be long!

    For men, don’t be afraid to get creative! You can choose to wear bold patterns and colors or just keep it classic with a tie and sport coat or blazer. The women aren’t the only ones who can have fun with their outfits!
    Make sure to check the weather beforehand. The Derby will go on in rain or shine. So grab your sunscreen, water, and umbrellas (just in case).

  • Sip A Traditional Mint Julep

    For nearly a century, the mint julep has been a traditional beverage served at Churchill Down in association with the Kentucky Derby. The famous bourbon-based cocktail is something that you should try, but remember to pace yourself. While a mint julep can be refreshing on a hot day, don’t forget to hydrate!

  • Wagering 101

    Don’t be afraid to gamble a little — it’s part of the experience! And, hey, you might even win a few bucks! The minimum you have to bet is normally $2. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a quick guide:

    Basic bets. If you’re brand new to placing bets, this is a great place to start. Choose any of the following but note the payout decreases with each level. Win is the most you can win and show being the lowest payout.

    Win: This is when you pick a horse you’re betting will win the race.
    Place: This term is for choosing a horse that will come in first or second.
    Show: This term is for choosing a horse that will come in somewhere in the top three.
    Across the board: This is an option to place three bets at once (win, place, and show).

    Exotics Bets (Next Level). If you really want to feel like a pro, then participate in exotic bets where you’re required to pick multiple horses correctly. If done correctly, the payout will be worth it.

    Exacta/Perfecta: This is where you pick the first place and second place horse in its exact order.
    Quinella: This is like the exacta/perfecta bet but you don’t need to pick the exact order of which horse wins first/second.
    Trifecta: This option is to pick the top three winners in order!
    Superfecta: This option is to pick the first, second, third and fourth place winners in order.

There you have it! Your Kentucky Derby 101 guide! This event takes place every year on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

Have you been to The Kentucky Derby? Tell us what you love about it in the comments!

Leave a Comment