10 Things You Need To Know About Kentucky Derby

The late Medina Spirit, "winning" the 2021 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

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10 Things You Need To Know About Kentucky Derby

The biggest horse race in America takes place the first Saturday in May.

The Kentucky Derby is an iconic part of the annual horse racing scene, and it has been ever since it began in 1875. Every year it is not only the biggest day at Churchill Downs, but in the city of Louisville.

Make sure you are prepared for your trip to the Kentucky Derby by checking out these facts and traditions. There are certain rituals which are closely followed for good luck and to secure a racer’s success, and it is important to conform to these when possible.

Not Just Any Horse Racing Event

Firstly, it is important to recognize that the thoroughbred racing that takes place during the weekend of the Kentucky Derby is prestigious as it is the first leg of the triple crown. This makes it a both a festive but highly tense environment.

Another thing to be aware of is that the Kentucky Derby has long been a royal favorite for international horse racing. Queen Elizabeth has attended the races here, and it should be treated as a prestigious event because of this.

Many people believe that they are keeping the tradition alive with certain behaviors, and the Kentucky Derby has demonstrated an elite standard of horse racing that is celebrated during the weekend. It is definitely worth appreciating the rich history and high quality of racers that are seen competing at Churchill Downs.

Dress Code

Something that creates a sense of class, elegance and sophistication is the smart dress code which the Kentucky Derby has always enforced. While it is a little more relaxed nowadays, you can wear your best dress with a matching hat, or even a suit.

Hats are traditional, and a symbol of good luck. It is also seen as a sign of good luck to wear pink outfits or accessories on the Friday before Derby day, when the Kentucky Oaks is run.

Traditional Mint Julep

Make sure you sip a mint julep while you are enjoying your time at the Derby, as it is another tradition of the event. The refreshing drink comes in a commemorative glass that you can keep. This doubles as a souvenir that celebrates your time at the races.

Know The Schedule

Another thing that you need to know about the Kentucky Derby is when the main events are taking place. There is usually an app that can be downloaded ahead of time, or you could find a program online to see which races you would like to watch, and any other events that you want to fit into your trip.

Understand the schedule so that you can get to where you need to be and find a good spot in plenty of time.


It is also essential if you plan on driving to the Kentucky Derby on or prior to the day’s events, that you know where you are parking, and how to get from the parking lot to Churchill Downs. Luckily, there are commuter lots that make the process a little smoother.

However, it is worth preparing for this before hitting the road so that you know exactly what to expect and where to go.

Rain Or Shine

The Kentucky Derby has only been canceled due to Covid, so prepare for any kind of weather. This means you should pack strategically and come prepared for rain, shine, wind, or anything else that could happen on the day. Many people either wear or bring sunscreen with them as well as a bottle of water and shades.

It is important that you are prepared for the rain, too. This means purchasing a waterproof poncho to protect your formal clothing, bringing a change of shoes or even clothes if you have the space, and knowing where you can get shelter.

Limited Space

It can be challenging to get a good view once you enter Churchill Downs because of the enormous crowds and limited space of the viewing area.

Make sure you arrive with enough time to find a good seat that is close to the action before the big crowd enters. You will not want to find yourself standing or seated in a place where you cannot actually see the races.

Who’s Racing

It may seem a little obvious, but some people attend the Kentucky Derby without actually knowing who is racing. Make sure you understand the main racers that you will be spectating, and place a bet on your favorite thoroughbred during your visit.

If you are unsure about the type of bet to place, or which horses are considered more successful than others, then it could be worth checking out tvg top picks for 2022 derby. This will also give you more information about the latest developments and jockeys too.

Kentucky Derby Festival

Try to make the most out of your visit by arriving several days before the Kentucky Derby so that you can experience the festivities that are taking place in the area. The Kentucky Derby festival is highly underrated, and there are a huge selection of bandstands, food stalls, and souvenir shops to browse through and lose track of time.

Check Out The Food

Finally, the Kentucky Derby and the events in the week leading up to it celebrate some of the most amazing cuisines. Recipes from all over the world are served from food stands, local restaurants, and vendors.

Make the most out of your time at the Kentucky Derby by booking a table at some of the highest rated restaurants ahead of time. This allows you to take comfort in the knowledge that you will experience the event to its fullest.


The Kentucky Derby is an incredibly popular event which is visited by fans from all over the world. Because of this, it is important that you know some of the traditions that continue to take place today. This can allow you to make the most out of your time at the Kentucky Derby.

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