Kentucky Derby from Afar!

Kentucky Derby, parties: fast horses, bourbon and fabulous hats

Got a little “Run for the Roses” on your mind?

If you’re an adventurous traveler and don’t mind going with the flow, there’s still time to make the seven-hour trek to Louisville for the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

If you go, prepare to see fabulous hats and taste the best the River City has to offer, including some of the finest bourbons around. Then there’s the Derby, the coveted Triple Crown’s first leg held each year at the storied Churchill Downs, with its twin spires and lush landscaping.

Kentucky Derby, parties: fast horses, bourbon and fabulous hats photo

Tickets for the race are still available. A $60 ticket will get you into the infield, a grassy area in the center of the track that becomes a sea of humanity on Derby day. Hotel rooms are still available if you’re willing to pay more and stay outside of the city.

Need more reasons to make the trip? The Derby and related festivities make for a week’s worth of parties with famous athletes, celebrities, millionaires and regular folks. During Derby weekend, the city’s bars stay open until 6 a.m.

Perched on the Ohio River, the city of Louisville (population 600,000) has some great sights. Must-see places include the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory and the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum dedicated to the life, career and politics of the boxing great. The Kentucky Derby Museum is closed Friday and Saturday for private parties but is open other days this week as well as the Sunday after the Derby.

Kentucky Derby, parties: fast horses, bourbon and fabulous hats photo

The Belle of Louisville, the nation’s oldest operating steamboat, is another popular tourism draw. The Chow Wagon, on the city’s waterfront, features rides for kids, food, vendors and entertainment and is one of over 70 events sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Festival.

The Kentucky Oaks — a race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs on Derby eve — has become a huge draw and is the preferred event for locals because it’s cheaper and less crowded.

As for the party and gala circuit, be prepared to plunk down some serious cash. Most Derby galas benefit local charities, said Peggy Riley, a Louisville native and director of Southeast sales for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Kentucky Derby, parties: fast horses, bourbon and fabulous hats photo

The Hermitage Grand Gala is one of the newest additions to the party circuit. Former NBA player and fast-food restaurant owner Junior Bridgeman and his wife, Doris, are co-hosting the Friday gala, which benefits schools, the Louisville Autism Center and other organizations. You can purchase a winner’s circle ticket for a mere $1,200. Ne-Yo and Darius Rucker are set to perform.

Need a hat for the Derby? The city’s department stores and craft stores will cater to your every need. “I have heard stories of limos pulling in front of (stores) on the day of the Derby,” said Susan Dallas, senior communications manager for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Dallas offers these tips for Derby neophytes: No umbrellas (they aren’t allowed at Churchill Downs), wear comfortable shoes, and take cabs, shuttles and public transportation to get around.

Kentucky Derby, parties: fast horses, bourbon and fabulous hats photo

“It’s pretty crowded but it’s a fun time to be in town,” she said. “Everybody’s in a party mood.”


Can’t make it to Louisville for the world famous “Run for the Roses”? Here are some tips on how to throw your own Derby party.

Plan a menu with Kentucky favorites: country ham and biscuits, benedictine (cucumber and cream cheese spread with a drop or two of green food coloring); bourbon chocolate pecan pie, beef tenderloin or barbecue. And don’t forget the mint juleps and Kentucky bourbon.

Derby hats are known for being over the top. Invite your guests to wear their favorite hat or get creative and design their own. Award a prize for the best hat; have a separate hat contest for the kids.

Copy the lyrics of “My Old Kentucky Home” so guests can sing along when the song is played before the start of the race.

Betting is a must but doesn’t have to be complicated. Guests may not participate if they have to know something about the horses. Some people like to choose a name that means something to them. Others like to draw names from a hat. You can have three purses for win, place and show (first, second and third). Guests can contribute whatever amount you set, i.e. $10 for win, $5 for place and $3 for show. Let the kids in on the fun by placing the names of the horses in balloons. Once the race is over, they can burst the balloons and see who wins. If your guests want to place official bets on the Derby, they can do so at any time by registering online ahead of time at


The Child Development Association will have its seventh annual “Down Home Derby” fundraiser at Iron Horse in Milton at 5 p.m. Saturday. The event includes a viewing of the Derby, dinner, cocktails, a bourbon tasting and live and silent auctions. “Down Home Derby” is CDA’s biggest fundraising event and provides scholarships to families. Tickets are $150 per person. For more information, 16470 Westbrook Road, Milton.


This year is the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, also known as the “Run for the Roses.” The race, for 3-year-old thoroughbreds, is the first leg of the Triple Crown, horse racing’s most elusive prize.

Q: Where and when are the second and third legs of the Triple Crown?

A:The Preakness in the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. It is held the third Saturday in May. The Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. It is the first Saturday in June.

Q: What is the last horse to have won racing’s Triple Crown?

A: Affirmed in 1978. Only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown.

Q: Who won last year’s Derby?

A: California Chrome.

Q: How many races does Churchill Downs have on Derby day and where does the Derby appear in that lineup?

A: There are 13 races in all and the Derby is the 11th race.

Q: What is the distance of the Derby?

A: A mile and a quarter.

Q: How many fillies have run in the Derby? How many have won?

A: Thirty-eight fillies have run. Three have won: Winning Colors in 1988, Genuine Risk in 1980 and Regret in 1915.

Q: Which jockeys have won the most Derbies?

A: Jockeys Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack have five Derby wins each.

Q: Who is Louisville’s most famous native son?

A: Muhammad Ali.

Q: Which major U.S. river runs through Louisville?

A: The Ohio River.


141st Kentucky Derby

4-7:30 p.m. Saturday, post time is 6:24 p.m., NBC


141st Kentucky Derby

4-7:30 p.m. Saturday, post time is 6:24 p.m., NBC

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