What To Know Before Traveling To The Kentucky Derby 2023

There is nothing that comes close to attending one of the biggest horse races on the international calendar. The Kentucky Derby is one of the most visited events in the world of horse racing, and that once again promises to be the case in 2023. Derby day in the United States this year is set for Saturday, May 6, with millions of fans also likely to watch the race live on television from all four corners of the planet.

However, if you’re fortunate enough to be attending the prestigious day at Churchill Downs in 2023, what are some of the key factors that you should be aware of before heading to the race?

What To Know Before Traveling To The Kentucky Derby 2023

Kentucky Derby – Photo: Jessica Kirsh

It’s More Than Just One Race

The Kentucky Derby is certainly the standout race held annually at Churchill Downs, but Derby week is about more than just the opening race on the Triple Crown calendar.

In fact, there is a festival atmosphere around the course throughout the week, with the draw for the race taking place on Monday, and the racing action getting underway on Thursday. You can find all the information about it here.

The opening day is all about the local crowd before the intense action is stepped up a gear on Friday, as the best fillies take center stage with the running of the Kentucky Oaks. As many as 14 races in total are staged across the three days of action, meaning that there is more than just a single opportunity to watch the horses in action across Derby week at Churchill Downs.

Plan Your Day

Kentucky Derby Photo: Mike K.

Every visitor attending Churchill Downs for the first weekend on Saturday will likely attend the Derby itself. Therefore, to avoid hassle on the day of the race, you should plan well in advance. That includes booking hotels and taxis up to a year in advance of the raceday itself.

Hotels are typically expensive in the local area, and they are likely to be fully booked if you wait until a few weeks before the race to book. Tickets for the day can still be booked on the day before the Derby, but finding accommodation on short notice can be difficult. You should also book flights with a lot of time to spare if you need to fly into Louisville for the Derby.

Only Book Through Official Site

Scams are a big part of day-to-day life nowadays, which means that you can often be hooked into overpaying for a Kentucky Derby ticket. To save hassle, you should always book any packages or tickets through the official website of the Kentucky Derby. Here, you can find just simple day tickets for centre course, while you can also have the option to upgrade your ticket for one of the many excellent packages available.

However, the latter can often prove more expensive, but you do typically get a meal included. Meanwhile, dress codes are stricter the more that you pay for your ticket, which is something that you should bear in mind.

Research Horses

Photo : Cheryl Quigley

As we mentioned previously, there is more than just one race taking place on whichever day you attend the racing at Churchill Downs. Therefore, to save hassle on the day, you should examine the runners in every race so that you can relax once you’re in Churchill Downs, and you can just place bets after doing the hard work earlier.

Obviously, keeping tabs on runners in the Kentucky Derby can often be more tedious, as many experts have followed the action for much of the year leading up to the race. As well as researching the likely runners, you should also look into the betting markets that you will be wagering on.

That includes examining the markets and ensuring that you understand what each requires in order to get returns.

Finding An Outfit

Find stylish accessories for the Kentucky Derby.

The outfit that you will wear will likely depend on where your seats are located. If you have paid top dollar for tickets, then you will need to study the dress code, and ensure that you wear something that matches the brief. If you have paid for the cheapest tickets, then you can wear something more comfortable.

However, comfort really is the order of the day, as you will do a lot more walking than you would expect around Churchill Downs. That means that you shouldn’t squeeze into shoes just to make you look more stylish, as you will likely be on your feet for at least eight hours while at the racing. You should also keep tabs on the weather, which means planning for any rain fall should it come.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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