Enjoying The Kentucky Derby From The Infield
Are you going to the Kentucky Derby? If you wanted to hob knob with the rich and famous or even have a seat at the Derby, you probably planned your trip long ago. Traditionally, Derby tickets for the next year's race go on sale the day after the current race is run. Now, a week before the Derby, there are 4,200 tickets available in Lower Clubhouse 110 that range from $500-$1270 each, and random tickets available throughout the park that can cost well into the thousands. The most widely available tickets are General Admission tickets for standing in the infield.
Your Derby Experience In The Infield
The infield tickets are $50, each plus parking. They are offer access to first-floor paddock and infield areas, but not to reserved seating areas or hospitality areas. As a general admission ticket holder, you cannot actually see the race and received no program unless you buy one. You can enjoy the party like atmosphere and even wear a hat. If you are the type of person who goes to an event for the experience, general admission tickets might appeal to you.
Derby veterans suggest that if you are opting for the infield, arriving early is the key to a good space along the fence. In the past, people have started to form a line at 3am, but the gates to not open until 8 AM. If you get there by 7:30 am, you have a good chance of getting a decent fence spot.
For those who have tickets for the grandstand, bleachers, or "millionaires Row," dressing up is part of the Derby experience. Fancy hats are the order of the day. If you stand in the infield, you are likely to be amidst pockets of inebriated college students, so there is no dress code. Many people in this area tend to wear hats, that often caricature the hats worn in the fancier sections. Many make political or social statements and are whimsical. Aside from the optional hats, it is wise to dress for the infield based on the weather. Typically this means to dress in layers so that you can take clothing off and on throughout the day before the late afternoon main event. Umbrellas are forbidden, but a plastic rain poncho is a good addition to a person or a clear plastic bag.
Derby And Oaks Security
Due to fears of terrorist activity, security at the Derby is high. Safety personnel are advising patrons to go by the principle "If you see something, say something." They even offer a number 502-636-4526 to report anything suspicious.
Although you may want to cut expenses by bringing your own food and drink, there are many rules you must follow to gain admission. You can see the whole list here but here are the basics:
- No carry- in coolers
- No cans or glass containers
- No outside alcohol
- No tents
- No thermoses
- No duffel bags, wagons, briefcases, or luggage
- No computers, camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, or cameras with attached lenses greater than six inches
- No pets, except service animals fireworks, air horns, noisemakers, laser pointers, major pepper spray
You can bring in:
- Food items in clear plastic bags or containers no larger than 18 inches by 18 inches
- Sealed, unopened bottles of water or soft drinks
- Purses less than 12 inches in any dimension, along with baby and diaper bags if you have your child with you
- Cell phones, smart phones, or tablets
- Small cameras with non-detachable lenses less than six inches
- Seat cushions
- Small personal music systems, radios and TVs - no boomboxes
- Chairs, if you enter by Gate 3
- Blankets and tarps (Gates 1 and 3)
Styrofoam coolers, ice, and plenty of food and drink will be available for purchase once you enter the park. When you come to the park, be prepared to turn on electronic items and submit to magnetic wand scan. Some of the rules apply only for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks days.
If you've opted to come to capture Churchill Downs rather than watching the event on TV, be prepared for a long day full of fun and memorable experiences - one of many you have a few live in Louisville.