Friday, November 29, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Delta Downs Jackpot

I didn't get a chance to handicap this race but just looking at who was entered, I would have bet on Whyruawesome based on the name alone and on Mighty Brown because I assume he's an offspring of Big Brown who won the Kentucky Derby in 2008, my first Derby. I have a soft spot for the offspring of horses I've seen win.
I just watched the race and boy howdy! Rise Up was impressive! He took the lead early on, kept it and then just about caught fire coming down the stretch! Nobody came close to catching up to him. If he can keep racing like that, I'll bet on him the first Saturday in May.
Rise Up's win in the Delta Downs Jackpot gave him 10 points. He's tied for third place on the leader board with New Year's Day, We Miss Artie, and Cleburne. But the Kentucky Derby is still 159 days away (I may or may not have an app on my phone that keeps track of that for me) and so much can (and will!) change in that time.
Until next time, Derby fans!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to get Kentucky Derby tickets

It's actually not that hard to get tickets to the Kentucky Derby! They're not cheap and you won't get the best seats unless you take out a loan with a mob boss but they are available to every day people.

General Admission
The cheapest way to get into Churchill Downs on Derby day is to buy general admission tickets. These tickets are $30 for the Oaks and $50 for the Derby. You can walk up to the gate and buy them the day of the event. There's no need to purchase them in advance. General admission tickets will get you into the paddock area and the infield- you won't have an assigned seat or even a view of the track. You'll have access to betting windows, the gift shop and food/drink vendors. Just be aware of what goes on in the infield.  It's a drunken mess complete with people racing on top of the port-o-potties, mud wrestling, vomiting and those creepy horse masks. If I had to do general admission, I'd get in line early, bring a camping chair and settle down in the paddock area.
 Mud wrestling in the infield.
Count me out. 

Through Churchill Downs
The next cheapest way to get Kentucky Derby tickets is to get them through Churchill Downs. The day after the Kentucky Derby, has a form you can fill out to get tickets. This link is good till some time in the fall. In November they'll send you a link to the "pre-sale" where you buy tickets at face value. Not every section is available in the sale in November and sometimes they add on some "extras" that you might not want. This year they sold 6-seat boxes in section 325 that included 6 tickets to Taste of the Derby. Last year Taste of Derby tickets were $300 each so that automatically jacked up the price of the box by at least $1800. Even though I really wanted to sit in that section, I didn't want to pay that much off the bat for a box, especially if it meant I might be stuck with $1800 worth of ToD tickets that I couldn't get rid of.
Anyway, tickets through the Churchill Downs sale are good for two days of racing- the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. So if you're reading this between November and April, you've missed the window of opportunity and you'll have to go through other avenues.

Ticket Brokers
The next cheapest way to get Kentucky Derby tickets is through Stub Hub, eBay or other ticket scalpers brokers. Prices will be at least double what face value is and tickets to Oaks and Derby are sold separately but there is a bigger selection of sections than what is offered through Churchill Downs.

Craigs List
Another option is to try on Louisville's CraigsList. Prices are all over the place, at least at the time of this writing. Some tickets seem to be on par with StubHub, others are way more expensive. Definitely do your research before you get out your credit card.

Finally, you can buy a Derby Experience through Churchill Downs. You get a complete package with a hotel room, transportation to the track, celebrity jockey appearance, lunch buffet, gift bag and either a cash bar or open bar. If you're scratching the Kentucky Derby off your bucket list and don't want to worry about little details, this might be for you. This link also offers tickets without the hotel accommodations, if you already have somewhere to crash in Louisville.I assume you still get the lunch buffet, gift bag, etc.

If you have any other ideas on how to get tickets to the Kentucky Derby, let me know!And if you need any advice on where to sit or how to get the best seat for your money, feel free to ask! I love talking derby.
 The following is old info from my planning for the 2014 KY Derby but someone might find it useful in their own research:

As of April 13th, there are still tickets available through Churchill Downs! They still have tickets in section 110 at this link. They offer trackside and uncovered seats for $698 and covered seats for $799. This includes "full food and beverage hospitality" and includes tickets to the Oaks on Friday. However, I did some research and found two negative reviews of section 110 from 2013. One says the food was hot dogs and chips and they waited in line for 30-40 minutes for drinks and toilets were port-o-potties. Another complains of inadequate staffing and long waits at betting windows and you couldn't see the tote board.
Keep in mind, 2013 was the first year they had section 110 and I'm sure it was a learning experience for Churchill Downs. The link to tickets above touts "expanded aisles, betting windows, and restrooms" so they're aware of last year's problems and are making improvements. And, yeah, port-o-potties are a way of life at the Kentucky Derby. It's not ideal but you get in, hold your breath, do your business and get out. I'd rather be in and out of a port-o-potty in 2 minutes than wait in line for 20 just so I can flush.

 StubHub Update as of 3/12/14! Ticket prices are falling! I have kept track of ticket prices in sections 324 and 223 since the beginning of January.  For section 324, ticket prices were steady at $951 per ticket in January and February (when I say "ticket prices" I mean lowest found on StubHub). Last week, the lowest price was $806 and today they're down to $764. Prices for the Oaks in that section have also fallen from $277 to $225. Prices also fell for section 223. Prices for the Derby went from $582 to $472. Prices for the Oaks haven't fallen as dramatically. In fact they've gone from $159 to $180 to $166 to today's price of $175. Last year I only kept track of prices in 324. Prices started to fall in early March and continued to fall until mid April. The highest price was $852 in early January and lowest was $659 April 18th (that $659 price was only on there for 2 days, max. It went up to $733 two days later). Keep in mind actual tickets are not shipped until the first week of April so no matter when you buy your tickets, you won't have them in your hand till around the second week of April.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

How I fell in love with the Kentucky Derby

I'd love to tell you that I've been watching the Derby since I was 4 years old or my grandfather trained racehorses but quite honestly, my first memory of watching the Derby was in 2000.  I was at a friend's house in college (college was University of Missouri,  house was the legendary 1609) and someone turned it on.  We watched them sing My Old Kentucky Home and I loved seeing the hats and the celebrities. But I was a bit let down by the actual race- it really IS only two minutes long!  It was so cool watching the horses- I wanted it to last a little longer.
Fast forward to 2008, my aunt and uncle, who go to the Derby every year,  called and asked if my husband and I wanted to go with them. I like going to Fairmount Park, the dumpy little track near St. Louis and it seemed like a great opportunity so we did the math on what it would cost and agreed to go! I bought a dress and hat, Mark bought a seersucker suit and we were off to the races! Oh, we had a ball!  The people watching was outstanding!  I felt like a million bucks in my dress and hat! Mark was absolutely dashing in his seersucker! We didn't win any money (and spent a ton) but we had a blast. We were bitten by the Derby bug.
We went in 2009 to see Mine That Bird come from behind. We saw Animal Kingdom win in 2011. We witnessed I'll Have Another's victory in 2012. We braved the rain in 2013 to see Orb win the roses. We cannot wait to see who wins in 2014!
As for 2010, we had to take that year off to have a baby. He was due May 5th but since I have gigantic babies and he was to arrive via c-section, we got to choose his birthday. We went with April 29th so his birthday would never interfere with future Kentucky Derby trips. Two days after having a baby, I wrote down my bets and sent Mark across the river to an off track betting place. We don't mess around when it comes to the Kentucky Derby!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A little bit about me

My name is Annie. I'm 30-something. I live in St. Louis, MO and I'm married to an awesome guy who loves the Derby almost as much as I do. We have 2 boys who are six and three. I'm trying to slowly get them into horse racing. When I was watching the Breeder's Cup, my three year old watched a couple races with me and I took the chance to teach him a few things like turf vs. grass and what the gate is. Gotta start small so he doesn't get overwhelmed. I think if my kids can handicap a race by the time they're 16, I will have done something right. Unless they go all Brandon Walsh and end up with a gambling problem.
I love the Derby. I love handicapping and watching the prep races. I love planning our trip. I love shopping for the perfect hat, dress and shoes (and jewelry and purse and special handicapping pens). I love walking up to Churchill Downs and seeing the twin spires. I love seeing the guy dressed up at Col. Sanders every year. I love all things Kentucky Derby.
So that's who I am. Who I am not is a serious, year round gambler. I'm too cheap for that and Fairmount Park, the race track just outside of STL, is pretty crummy. If Santa Anita is a shiny BMW, Fairmount is a used Hyumdai Elantra. One with a rear panel that doesn't match the rest of the car and it only has 2 hubcaps. I'd be surprised of there was a horse there this summer with a Beyer speed rating over 60. I've seen horses with negative speed ratings over there. I don't even know how that's possible! And while I can find my way around a DRF past performance sheet, I don't know anything about track bias or time splits. If that's what you came for, head on over to the forums at Pace For me, it seems like I have the same luck whether I handicap a race or pick a winner because I like the name. I won $85 on last year's Kentucky Oaks by betting on Princess Sylmar simply because my favorite jockey, Mike Smith, was riding. That was a pretty awesome ticket to cash.
Stick around if you want to explore Derby contenders, prep races, fashion and travel tips. It should be a good time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We're headed to our 6th Kentucky Derby


Today we (my husband and I) scored tickets to the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby to be held May 3, 2014. This will be our 6th trip to the Kentucky Derby.
Average people CAN get tickets to the Derby. Churchill Downs starts accepting requests for tickets the day after the Derby and you have until October 31 to get your request in. All you have to do is enter your email address. You don't have to enter a credit card number or promise your firstborn child or anything nutso, just enter your email address. Then in November you'll get a link to the site where you can buy tickets. This morning I had two laptops fired up, my credit card out, a movie on for my three year old, and a sandwich premade on the bottom shelf of the fridge in case he got hungry.  I also had my husband on the phone at work because he was trying to get tickets too. We both got right into the system- I was offered section 222, row F and he was offered section 223, row A. We went with section 223, row A. Even though section 222 would be closer to the finish line, we went with section 223 so we could be in the front row.
We had great luck this year, I will admit that. There was one year I was stuck in the dreaded "virtual waiting room" for an hour and had to settle for seats in section 128. But, hey, seeing the Derby from section 128 is a helluva lot better than watching it from my couch!

Welcome to my Kentucky Derby blog!

In this blog, I plan on writing about all things Derby- horses, jockeys, prep races, hats, dresses, suits, mint juleps.  I'll also include travel information and tips. I also want to show that you don't have to be ultra rich to afford a trip to the Derby. It's definitely not cheap but it doesn't have to cost $5,000 either.
Thanks for sharing my excitement for the "most exciting two minutes" in sports. I'm planning on stretching my excitement out for 172 days!