Hold Your Horses - and Your Hat!

Head to the Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby
Sat May 3, 2014

Kentucky Derby
Churchill Downs
700 Central Avenue

Louisville, KY 40208

Take a trip to Louisville, Ky., for a chance to witness "the most exciting two minutes in sports" when the 2014 Kentucky Derby kicks off at the historic Churchill Downs racetrack. Watch the action unfold with bated breath as the world's fastest thoroughbred colts, geldings and fillies sprint the 1.25-mile loop in search of eternal fame and glory on the winners podium. This grand event is scheduled to begin May 2 and run the following day ending on May 3 at the Churchill Downs racetrack, located at 700 Central Avenue on Louisville's south side.


History of the Derby

Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of famous explorer William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is credited with the organization of the Louisville Jockey Club, which raised money for the construction of the track now known as Churchill Downs. The young visionary first conceived the notion to begin such a club back in 1872 after visiting The Epsom Derby in England and the Longchamp Racecourse in France, two of Europe's most famous horse tracks. The inaugural Kentucky Derby ran three years later in 1875 on a 1.5 mile track, where a field of 15 three-year-old horses competed in front of an estimated 10,000 fans. A colt named Aristides, jockeyed by Oliver Lewis, was the first champion of the race. 

The Kentucky Derby is the first race in a series of three known as the U.S. Triple Crown. The other two races include the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, which are held in Maryland and New York, respectively. In the 138 years since the race began, there have only been 11 Triple Crown winners - the last in 1978 when Affirmed, jockeyed by Steve Cauthen, won the three historic races in succession. The fastest time ever recorded at the Kentucky Derby was set by the legendary Secretariat, jockeyed by Ron Turcotte, who posted a lightning-quick time of 1 minute and 59.4 seconds.

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The price of tickets will range dramatically depending on which section you choose to enjoy the Derby from. If you're planning on sitting down during the event in the grandstand, be prepared to hand over some serious coin for your seats. Covered and non-covered seating options are available, along with general admission tickets that are standing room only. In addition to Derby tickets, fans have the option to peruse the grounds a bit on Oaks Day, held every Friday before the Kentucky Derby. A $25 transaction charge will also be added to the pricing listed below. Ticket costs for each day are as follows:

  • Section 110 - Kentucky Derby non-stadium seating is available for $708.00
  • Section 110 - Kentucky Derby non-covered stadium seating is available for $708.00
  • Section 110 - Kentucky Derby covered stadium seating is available for $809.00
  • General Admission - Kentucky Derby is available for $54.00
  • General Admission - Oaks Day is available for $34.00

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Taste of the Derby

Among Louisville locals, the Kentucky Derby is considered something of a holiday, and events such as the fifth annual Taste of the Derby and many others are scheduled throughout the weeks prior to the main event. This year's installment of the Taste will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in the North Wing Lobby on Thursday, May 1, and will feature the culinary brilliance of master chefs from cities across the country, including Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and of course, Louisville.

As one of the classiest parties in town, guests who attend the Taste of the Derby should expect to find delicious indulgences paired beautifully with fine wines from all over the world. The actual menu items are a closely guarded secret until the day of the event. However, past dishes are known to be small bite-sized morsels, usually featuring a bit of meat or seafood garnished with an array of flavorful herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits and more. Like the Derby itself, this event should be regarded as a rather dressy occasion, and guests should be sure to wear formal attire.

Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest

Kentucky Oaks Day takes place the day before the Derby itself, and features the annual Fashion Contest which gives female patrons a chance to strut their stuff in their most frilly, fun and fashionable attire. While red roses are the official flower of the Kentucky Derby, Oaks Day and its annual race of three-year-old fillies is characterized by a different blossom - the pink stargazer lily. That is why attendees young and old turn out for the event clad in nothing but pink. From head to toe, ladies who participate in the annual fashion contest are dressed to the nines in sundresses, stilettos, sunglasses and of course wide-brimmed and extravagant hats in every shade of pink imaginable.

Hats are a must for women attending the weekend's events, and have become the traditional head wear of nearly all Derby attendees - and the bigger the better. They can be plain or grandiose, custom-made or off-the-rack, just be sure to have one perched atop your noggin. This year's most fashionable choice will be the fascinator, a hat that is widely popular among the British elite. This particular style features a dainty circular headpiece worn at a jaunty angle and adorned with floral or feathery elements. It was made popular by the newest royal, Kate Middleton, who favors this particular variety of head wear. Best of all, the fascinator will not leave you with a motley tangle of dreaded hat hair at the end of the day. 

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Accommodations Close to the Action

Derby attendees can stay close to the action with a vast selection of rental accommodations in and around the Louisville area. Whether you're looking for an expansive rental home, a mid-sized townhouse or a cozy little apartment, HomeAway is sure to provide a temporary residence that meets you and your party's needs. The Schnitzelburg two-bedroom apartment is just one of the many options near the historic Churchill Downs racetrack, and features all the amenities required to bring you a truly excellent weekend celebrating one of America's best sporting events. Book your accommodations now to get the best deal in town! 


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