The 144th Kentucky Derby is upon us, and if you’re planning to attend the Derby and/or the Oaks, there’s a lot to think about. Can I take my drone? Where should I park? Does this Derby hat make me look stupid?
We’re here with a brief guide to help you plan your Derby experience… except for the hat. That’s a personal decision.
Gates open at 8 a.m. on both Derby and Oaks day with the first races scheduled for 10:30 a.m. both days. Be prepared for heavy security, as metal detector scans are required before entry. You can read more about security on Derby and Oaks day here.
There’s no reentry once you’ve left Churchill Downs, and you cannot leave and return on the same ticket.
There are 13 races scheduled for Oaks Day. Post time for the Kentucky Oaks race is 6:12 p.m. Friday.
There will be 14 races on Derby day, and the 144th Kentucky Derby post time is 6:50 p.m. Saturday.
- Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” X 18” – no trash bags)*
- “Box” lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18″ X 18″ – no trash bags)
- Water and soft drinks – plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
- Purses, but none larger than 12” in any dimension (subject to search)
- Baby/diaper bags – only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
- Small cameras – none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6” or more **
- Sunscreen (non-glass containers only)
- Small personal music systems, radios and televisions** (No boom boxes)
- Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets**
- Seat cushions smaller than 15″X15″ that do not contain metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps
- Strollers (ONLY if carrying a child)
- Chairs (Infield Gate ONLY)
- Blankets & tarpaulins (Infield and Paddock Gates ONLY)
* Limit of two bags per person
** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items
Naturally, the list of what is you’re not allowed to bring in is a little longer.
- Coolers (Styrofoam coolers, ice available at infield purchase points)
- Cans (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
- Pop-Up or Patron Tents– no poles or stakes of any kind
- Laptop Computers and Camcorders
- Cameras with detachable lenses, or equipped with a lens that is 6” or larger
- Selfie Sticks
- Purses larger than 12″ in any dimension
- Alcoholic beverages
- Illegal Substances
- Luggage (includes briefcases)
- Duffel bags
- Umbrellas (Umbrellas are not allowed during Derby Week: Opening Night- Derby Day)
- Weapons (including knives)
- Fireworks, noisemakers, air horns, laser lights/pointers, mace or pepper sprays
- Drones and remote controlled aircraft
- Personal transportation devices (e.g.Hoverboards)
- Animals (with the exception of service animals for guests with disabilities)
- Any items deemed dangerous and/or inappropriate
The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is offering free shuttle service for people with reserved parking at the Kentucky Exposition Center on Oaks and Derby day starting at 7 a.m. The #4 bus (Fourth Street) the #6 bus (Sixth Street) and the #29 bus (Eastern Parkway) will provide the closest access to Oaks and Derby.
Central Avenue between Crittenden Drive and Taylor Boulevard are closed Friday and Saturday, and pedestrians can only cross Central Avenue at 3rd Street or 9th Street.
Taxi’s will drop off riders at Wagner’s pharmacy – a block from the Churchill Downs Paddock Gate entrance. Ridesharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, will be required to be dropped off at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Where Will You Park?
Parking during Derby and Oaks will be hectic. Parking on-site will be reserved and you’ll need a pass to access Churchill Downs via vehicle. Neighborhood parking is available during the week, for a price of course. People who haven’t reserved parking can park for $20 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. It’s first come, first serve, and a complimentary shuttle to the track will be available there.
If you have a parking pass, you can also park for free at the Kentucky Exposition Center starting at 7 a.m. Shuttles will run from there between 7 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Oaks Day, and between 7 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Derby Day.
More information can be found here.