I am planning on heading to Louisville in May for my first ever Kentucky Derby. Any ideas, tips, suggestions? I am in the beginning planning stages - any help would be appreciated!
Mike Lantry, 1972
You can stay outside downtown Louisville and still have a good time at the derby. If you can somehow manage it, find tickets that get you out of the infield, then you can "suit up" and hit on fine lookin' ladies dressed up nice for the derby, then ready to get down with the same ladies that night. Thoroughbreds indeed.
So is the infield a trash bash then? When I think of the Derby, I think of bow ties and seersucker suits...?
The infield is definitely more of a Mardi Gras atmosphere. You can access it from the grandstand side if you get box seats get into to see what it is like and then go back. A lot of people get there at dawn to stake out spots. It gets pretty wild most of the time.
So it was 2005 and it was my first trip to the Derby. I was in my mid-twenties and still hadn't learned something called "restraint*," so I commenced drinking beer at 8 a.m. ...
...By 3 p.m. I was soused. I curled up on the blanket for a little ... well, we'll call it a nap. I wake up 20 minutes before the Derby starts, see a girl who is kinda cute about 10 yards away, walk over to her and ask to borrow her lighter. We start talking, we're both from Michigan, blah, blah, blah. It probably helped that the combined alcohol we consumed that day would tranquilize a rhino.
At some point after the race she goes to the bathroom and returns, only her jeans are sopping wet between ... well, yea.
Me: "Um, girl, did you pee your pants?"
Her: "What? Oh, um, no ... I spilled my beer on me in the bathroom."
Yea, she peed her pants.
It gets pretty wild most of the time.
...wraps it up pretty accurately.
-Better dressed crowd (Girls in hats, dresses, and heels)
-You can actually watch the race (Infield you can see the horses for about 1 second if you hang out on the third turn; the rest of the time you are watching them race on one of the big screens)
-You can hit the infield if you want
-Tickets are $$
-You can bring as much food as you want into the infield but there really isn't room for coolers in the stands
**There is a fenced area inside of the infield that costs a little more money to get into. I am not sure on the details of that section but it could be an option.
and take your pic from the non-uppity women with negotiable morals who are ubiquitous throughout the infield.
A few additional tips:
1) Unless you have a hotel in Louisville already you're probably not going to find one as of now. There is a campground near an amusement park we stayed at and it worked out fine.
2) Do you best to make it to The Oaks the day before. It's a great atmosphere that only builds anticipation for the following day.
3) If you can flirt your way into half-price refills at the $6-a-beer Coors Light table, do so. You should get to the infield on Derby Day about 9ish to pick a good seat -- ideally on the far rail on the backstretch near the video monitor.
4) Not sure of your age but basically it breaks down like this: When you walk into the infield the farther away from the gate you go the older the age gets. College kids are closest to that side, near the 3/4 pole. Halfway back is 30- and 40-year olds. Farthest back are the blue hairs.
5) The Derby is nearly impossible to handicap. In all the years I have bet on that damn race -- five or six -- I have won once, and only because I let a woman make a bet for me. (Shutup, I won.) Make good use of betting on early races though.
6) Put $100 on Giacamo. ...
7) I'd tell you to have a great time but it's impossible not to enjoy yourself there. There's almost nothing like it in the world.
I live here in Louisville. How early are you planning on arriving. The whole week leading up to the Derby is filled with parties and events.
Probably the Thursday or Friday before. I will be with a mix of males and females -- I know my wife, who is a southerner, wants to be with the preppy, dressed up people...is that not on the infield?
No, she wants to be on the grandstand side but here is how you comprimise. Thursday they have a concert in the infield with normally 5-6 bands playing all day long. The admission is considerably cheaper and it is a great day to relax and bet on some races and listen to some good music. Plus the beer is cheaper.
Friday is the Oaks day. It is also know as "the common mans' Derby". It is a bit more crowded and the beer and admission is more expensive but still a great day none the less. And as said before, it really builds anticipation for the Derby. People still get dressed up if you want to do that but in general it is more laid back.
The derby day is the day to go all out on the suits and dresses and Derby hats. The atmosphere surrounding the track is unlike anything else. There will be a lot of celebrities there but most if not all will be on millionaires row.
Make sure if you are going to the infield on Oaks or Derby you get there rather early. There are also a lot of good parties at night. 4th street live is a big collection of bars and hotspots and always does something special for Derby. Also, the Phoenix Hill Tavern is a great palce to go listen to local music (rock mostly) and have some drinks derby week.
It is almost impossible to have a bad time here that week.
Right on man. Thanks a ton!
No problem. Hope you have a great time. It is an experience I would recommend everyone take in once in their lifetime. One last thing. Make sure to check the weather before you leave because I have been to the derby one year and it snowed and the next year it was almost 90 degrees. The weather that time of year is very unpredictable so pack accordingly.
I went with my fiancee last year(infield). She made a hat and got dressed up. She was in the minority but didn't feel out of place.
I will recommend that your female friends make their hats it is a a lot cheaper and by a lot I mean like 300 dollars.
I used to work in sales for the local Miller Light distributor here in town when I trurned 21. Everyone that worked there had to go to the track the night before Oaks and Derby to deliver/re-stock the beer booths with kegs. The kicker was that we got to drive our work vehicles into the infield once the majority of people left after the last race and we always put coolers in our vehicles full of beer. Every year the local high school sports teams that cleaned up for fundraisers would find people passed out in bushes and under blankets and half naked. We would sit and watch people wake up and just look so beat and confused. Everyone would beg us for beer since the vendors quit selling shortly into the last race. It is AMAZING what drunk women are willing to do get a free beer. We were offered everything under the sun. It was hilarious. None of us took any up on their offers but some were quite tempting.
The Derby is by far the most awesome American event that I have ever been to. You have to take it all in though. Try going to the Oaks on Friday and do some betting there. Then once you get to the actual Derby on Saturday, just dapper up and try to talk to as many ladies as possible.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that the Derby has the most beautiful women in this country for any type of huge sporting event. It is not even close. Also, the bars are open until 6am both nights so you probably won't get much sleep. It is all worth it though. Expect to drink a lot of bourbon. And also, expect to spend a bit. The Derby ain't cheap.
To me it sounds like you want more of a party, while your wife wants a more subtle yet classy atmosphere. With that being said I think we can all agree that when the wife’s happy your happy so take my thoughts for what their worth. Based on experiences and preferences I’d pass on the Derby and head to KY a few weeks early, but to Lexington not Louisville. Lexington is home of Keeneland which only runs in April and October. I’m not trying to hate that much on the Derby, but Keeneland exudes an air of class that the Derby just doesn't have with everyone on the infield in their wife beaters, throwing up, passing out etc, which by all accounts will be were you end up. Not based on who you are, but more so based on the fact that this is your 1st go around. Granted my college days are over so been there done that; and I don’t feel like watching someone else do it or be forced to deal with it either. Yes the Derby has millionaires row and mint julep’s, but have you ever had a mint julep…not that great. Anyway at Keeneland try to score club house tickets $20 a pc, but well worth it, and if you do you’ll need to make sure you have a jacket and tie on. If you can’t get into the clubhouse; general admission only costs $2 a person, but it’s more crowded. The big weekend in April centers around the “Bluegrass Stakes,” and I’d recommend staying downtown @ the Hyatt located in conjunction to Rupp Arena or renting out a Bed and Breakfast on the main drag leading into downtown so you can head out after dinner and/or the races. Make sure to eat @ “Murray’s,” a quick cab ride from the track after the race, and hit up “Cheapside” for drinks to finish off the night.
p.s. "turbo cool;" the FL vs GA game i.e world's largest outdoor cocktail party would give the Derby a run for most beautiful women @ a sporting event IMHO.
i would recommend no stocking up on good bourbon for cheap. if you find some Old Fitzgerald or the Very Special Old Fitzgerald snatch it up. good stuff.