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Attending the Kentucky Derby Cost

How Much Does Attending the Kentucky Derby Cost?

low costAirfare: $600-$1,000+ Per Personaverage costTickets: $40-$6,000+ Per Personhigh costHotel: $680-$4,100+ Per Couple
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The first of three races known as the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby is held the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs[1] in Louisville, KY. Three-year-old thoroughbred horses run the 1.25-mile track in what is known by many as the "most exciting two minutes in sports." Tickets vary in price and availability, depending on the view of the track and amenities.

Typical costs:

  • General admission[2] tickets cost $40 and include access to paddocks where horses can be viewed for about 25 minutes before each race, the infield, and other standing-room only areas. No view of the racetrack is included; however, the races may be seen on one of the many small and large screens set up in all the general admission areas and the infield. Also guests have access to the wagering booths. The infield[3] has a party atmosphere where race and bourbon enthusiasts gather, while the opposite end tends to be more similar to a family-style picnic.
  • Grandstand seating sits in front of the home stretch and costs about $375-$1,050, depending on the view of the track, hospitality -- whether a wait staff brings food and beverages directly to the seat holder -- and if the seat is under cover. The lower priced seats are typically backless bleachers.
  • Clubhouse tickets cost $550-$3,900, depending on level, covering, hospitality and view of the finish line. These folding chairs sit in front of the finish line. The closer to the final wire, the higher the price.
  • Premium Kentucky Derby tickets at many of the suites cost about $1,850-$4,000 or more per person, depending on view of the finish line and level of hospitality--from in-suite service to full table dining. Top dollar suites and clubs have both air-conditioned rooms with views of the track and optional terraces or balconies directly above the field. Typically purchased by corporations, the suite sizes vary from 50 up to 175 in capacity and include catering, parking passes, open bar and souvenir programs. Turf club celebrity seating with dining at tables of eight at a glass-front window overlooking the finish line typically costs $4,150-$6,000 per person, depending on the track view.
  • Lodging prices vary by level of hotel. A three-star inn without connected Derby tickets or track shuttles can cost about $680-$2,100 for four nights for two people. Four- and five-star hotel packages[4] with transportations to the racetrack, tickets to Derby cocktail events and included programs and souvenirs cost about $3,950-$4,100 per couple for four nights, depending on level of room and location.
  • Economy or coach airfare to Louisville costs about $600-$1,035 from New York, $500-$1,000 from Los Angeles and $200-$720 from Chicago, depending on the airline, trip distance and travel dates. Several major airlines fly into Louisville including United and Southwest[5] .
Related articles: Attending the Triple Crown

What should be included:
  • Food and non-alcoholic drinks may be brought into Churchill Downs following strict guidelines[6] . Jeans, shorts, sundresses or other comfortable clothing is recommended in general admission areas. Tarps, blankets and chairs are only allowed through gates 1 and 3. Dress code in all reserved seating areas includes no collarless t-shirts, tank tops, jeans, shorts or athletic apparel. Most women dress in pastels or bold colors and many don traditional hats[7] . Men generally wear sports coats and ties.
  • Some hotels may offer free on-site parking or complimentary breakfast.
Additional costs:
  • All parking is sold in advance at about $215 and is reserved. Neighboring homes and businesses sell race day parking spots for $20 and up. Remote parking is also provided at nearby stadiums for $8-$15, no reservations are needed. Call 502-636-4400 for parking information. Miller Transportation[8] is an official partner of Churchill Downs and provides shuttles from the downtown area and remote parking areas from $10-$20, depending on location.
  • The traditional Kentucky Derby mint julep is made from bourbon, mint and sugar syrup and costs about $9. Beer prices are $3-$6.
  • For premium seats like those in Millionaires Row, a Personal Seat License[9] must be purchased first that covers three to five years.
Shopping for attending the kentucky derby:
  • Tickets for the Kentucky Derby may be purchased online through Churchill Downs[10] or[11] .
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