Kentucky Derby for Newbies


Pull out your best pastels and grab your floppy hat, it’s time to head to the Derby!

If you have never attended the Kentucky Derby before, you might want to consider getting this major event on your to-do list. Horse lover or not, the Kentucky Derby is an event you will want to attend. It is a spectacle filled with glamorous attire, swanky drinks, and gambling galore. And I can’t forget to mention how mesmerizing the horses are in person!

The Tickets

Unlike other major events, the Kentucky Derby is one of a kind. The Derby is an extravagant event but provides tickets at all prices, allowing everyone to be able to experience the race. Many people don’t realize that the Derby isn’t an event for just the rich and famous. It is accessible to everyone!

If you are looking to keep the price down, general admission tickets for the infield start at $70. Now keep in mind, general admission means just that. You do not have a reserved seat, so make sure to grab a few lawn chairs and get there early. The infield doesn’t have the best views of the track but you still get to enjoy the people watching, drinks, and gambling. There are also many large screens displayed around the track so you will be able to watch each race.

Reserved seating can be purchased in the stands and guarantees you a seat. Again, pricing varies depending on your requirements. There is standard bleacher seating, stadium chair seating, and box seating for the high rollers. Also note that not all seats are covered, so make sure to bring rain gear if you are in the lower bleachers or infield.

The Attire

When attending the Kentucky Derby, you want to make sure you fit into the wardrobe scene. The Derby is a great place to showcase your spring fashion. Pastel dresses and suits, flashy over sized hats and headwear, and suspenders and bow ties! This is an event where you can be conservative with your attire or really shine with a flamboyant statement piece.

The over sized hat is the most famous trend of the Derby, which means you will have to go HAT SHOPPING! So I am sure you are thinking, “Where the heck do I find a Derby hat?” After attending the Derby a few times, I have found that your best bet is to get to Kentucky early and do your shopping there. Not only are there specialty store in the area, but all the department stores carry beautiful hats that can be found for reasonable prices. If you don’t have time to shop around in Kentucky, head on over to Etsy for some great custom pieces.

The Drinks

Most large events that you attend are filled with plastic cups and tap beer but at the Derby you are presented with collectible glass drinkware filled with high end Mint Juleps.

A Mint Julep is a cocktail containing:

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 cups water

  • Sprigs of fresh mint

  • Crushed ice

  • Bourbon Whisky

Not a fan of bourbon whisky, not a problem. Grab an Oaks Lily. The Lily consists of:

  • 1 1/4 oz. Vodka

  • 1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix

  • 1/4 oz. Triple Sec

  • 3 oz. Cranberry Juice

And if you really don’t want to have a boozed fill day of hard liquor, beer and of course mini champagnes are available!

The Gambling

Now I am not much of a gambler but the Derby is definitely a place to learn. Now many people don’t realize that the Kentucky Derby doesn’t consist of just one race, it actually consists of numerous races ran throughout the day. Starting around 10 am, races run about every 20 – 30 minutes and you are able to place bets on ALL OF THEM! So put your hustler panties on and get to the track early.

Horse gambling is definitely a little trickier than pulling an arm on a slot machine. A few basic terms include:

Win — If your horse finishes 1st

Place — If your horse finishes 1st or 2nd

Show — If your horse finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd

Across the Board — Three equal Win, Place and Show bets.

  • If your horse finishes 1st, you win all three bets.

  • If your horse finishes 2nd, you win on the Place and Show bets.

  • If your horse finishes 3rd, you win on the Show bet.

Exacta — Pick two horses in one race. If they finish 1st and 2nd, in exact order, you win.

Quinella — Pick two horses. If they finish 1st or 2nd, in either order, you win. Also known as an Exacta Box.

Trifecta — Pick three horses. If they finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd, in exact order, you win.

Superfecta — Pick four horses. If they finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, in exact order, you win.

The Paddock

When you visit the Kentucky Derby, one thing that is sure to be at the top of your list is to see the horses up close. Unfortunately, tickets don’t give you access to horse stables but they do allow you to head over to the Paddock. The Paddock is an area located in front of the grand stands where the horses gather prior to each race. All horses are led out with their owners and jockeys and are showcased for the spectators. It really gets your adrenaline pumping to see your horse up close before it heads out to the track to win you some extra cash! The Paddock also makes a great location to take pictures.

Now that you know some of the ins and outs of the Kentucky Derby, get your butt in gear and get the Derby on your schedule! It is an event that you don’t want to miss.

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By Laura Robertson . L.designs Invitations & Designs