Thursday, September 18, 2014

Derby ticket alert!

Derby tickets will be on sale November 10th!

My Kentucky Derby report- Volume 2- Derby Day!

Derby Day. I love this day so much.

We did another hearty breakfast at Bob Evan's and then donned our Derby finery- seersucker for him, black and white dress with a pink hat for me.

We had the same seats as Oaks Day and they were still fabulous. I don't think I won a penny that day but I had a blast.

One slightly amusing story- a friend of mine in Boston gave me $25 to bet on Wicked Strong. After Hoppertunity was scratched, I was under the assumption that since Wicked Strong had originally been in post 20, everyone would move down a notch, Wicked Strong would break from 19 and post 20 would be empty. I asked a few people who seemed to know what they were doing and it seemed it would be that way based on something I had from Daily Racing Form. So, I put my friend's money on the 19 horse. The Kentucky Derby race rolled around and I realized (too late!) that Wicked Strong would be breaking from the 20 post and I had my friend's money on Ride On Curlin instead.


Despite our great seats, I could barely enjoy the race. I was so worried that Wicked Strong would be in the money and I'd have to disappoint my friend or cough up the winnings myself. By the skin of my teeth, I was OK. Wicked Strong came in 4th and I was able to breathe again. I won't make that mistake again. Mostly because I don't think I want to place bets with other people's money ever again. Crap, that was nerve wracking.

A few pictures from the race:
 And they're off!

 Up the backstretch
 And California Chrome wins the 140th Kentucky Derby!

 My lovely husband boxed the favorite and post 17 (because no one has ever won from 17) and he won $170! It was the most either of us have ever won on a horse race and I think it was probably the first ticket we've ever cashed on the Derby at all!

Some closing thoughts:

I'm going to have to rewrite my entry about lunch at the Kentucky Derby. With the improvements done to the grandstand, food was definitely better. Was it gourmet/organic/free range/remotely healthy? Not in the least but it was filling and tasty and a vast improvement over previous years. They had tacos, nachos, sausages, kebobs. Expect to spend about $10-12 on lunch.

Did I make any mistakes this year? Actually, I did. When I got my Kentucky Derby pedicure, the girl doing my toes asked if I wanted her to get the dead skin off the bottom of my feet. I said yes. Big mistake. The bottoms of my feet were baby soft but after all that walking on Oaks Day, I wanted to crawl from the car to the restaurant. The soles of my feet felt like they were on fire! Luckily it was short lived and I was OK for the Derby.

No Kentucky Derby for us in 2015. We'll be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and as much as I love the Derby, I want to park my arse on a beach and relax for a week. The Derby is fun fun fun but for our anniversary, I want a drink in my hand, my toes in the sand and not a thing on my calendar.

My 2014 Kentucky Derby report- Volume 1- Thursday and Oaks Day

We had a fabulous time at the Kentucky Oaks and Derby this year! I apologize for the extremely lengthy delay in a trip report.

We rolled into Louisville on Thursday evening and checked into our hotel. Actually, I should say we rolled into Jeffersonville, Indiana because that's where our hotel was. We were early for our reservations at the Exchange Pub and Kitchen in New Albany, IN. We both ordered the steak frites. It was good but it came with an excess amount of fries. And when I asked our waiter who he liked in the Derby, he said he had no idea. Come on, people! It's Derby weekend! Get with the program!

After that we headed to New Albanian Brewery's Bank Street location for a couple of beers. I noticed a woman come in wearing an NBC Sochi jacket and soon after, she was joined by a couple guys and one was wearing an NBC London Olympics jacket. Long story short, they were a group of sound people who worked for NBC. It was so interesting to talk to them! One guy had been in Sochi for two months. Another one was from St. Louis. They were a very interesting group and I had a ball talking to them.

Friday morning arrived. We had a hearty but not very healthy breakfast at Bob Evans and headed to the track.We parked at Papa John's Stadium and walked over.

Our seats were in the second floor grandstand and WOW- I was so impressed with the new grandstand terrace! Gone is the old "scary, leaky basement" atmosphere of the first floor grandstand. There was so much covered space that even if it rained, it would be OK. The second floor was even better! They added a lovely section with planters, benches, and tables. It was so nice! And the bathrooms. The bathrooms! I waited in line once that day to use a real, porcelain toilet! No more ridiculous lines or port-o-potties! Kudos, Churchill Downs! Well done!

 View from our seats early in the day

Our seats were fantastic. They were in the first row of section 223 so we had a great view of the track.
I cashed a few tickets throughout the day, probably gained $20 or so. I gave up on exactas and daily doubles after a while because I was just throwing money away. So I started doing small win/place/show bets. I didn't win a whole lot but I didn't lose a whole lot either! And even cashing a ticket that gains you $4 is exciting. 

Speaking of exciting, the most exciting part of the day was when they started loading the horses in the starting gate for the Oaks. First of all, they did it right in front of our seats! Then Empress of Midway decided she didn't want to race and ended up almost upside down in the starting gate. That was intense. I have no idea how they got the horse upright in that tight space but they did and she was scratched. Then another horse bucked off her jockey! It was the first time I've ever had such a close up view of the starting gate and, wow, that was exciting.

 Empress of Midway decides, "Nope. I'm not racing today."

That night we went to Feast in New Albany for dinner. It was outstanding! Very laidback place,  lots of dark wood, fantastic food. Then it was time for a little TV and rest up for the BIG DAY. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sign up for 2015 Kentucky Derby tickets!

Get your name on the list here. But if any of you disrupt MY attempt to get tickets, I'll cut you.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kentucky Derby Style

My tips for a successful trip to the Kentucky Derby!

We're only two weeks away! Hopefully you have your tickets, your hotel reservations, and your outfit. The next week and a half is the hard part- the prep races are over and post positions haven't been determined yet so there's nothing to do but wait. While you wait, here are my tips for a comfortable trip to the Kentucky Derby.

First, review my Top Three Tips:
Don't drink too much the night before and have a miserable morning.
Bring a back up pair of comfortable shoes.
If you just have to have a certain souvenir, buy it early in the day.

Review my Top Three Things to Bring to the Derby (that aren't money).
Travel pack of Kleenex
Cheap plastic poncho, if there's rain in the forecast

Bring a spare bag for mint julep glasses. Even if it's just a plastic grocery bag, it's nice to have somewhere to put your julep glasses. And don't throw away your past performance papers after each race- wrap your glasses up in them for extra padding.

Pack your painkiller of choice, just in case you didn't remember my #1 Tip of not drinking too much the night before.

Put a couple anti diarrhea pills in your purse or pocket. Just in case, better safe than sorry. It's long day of port-o-potties and long lines for said potties. 'Nuff said.

Bring a few Bandaids in case your heels or dress shoes rub a few hot spots on your feet.

There are two more races after the Kentucky Derby race but the majority of the crowd leaves after the Derby.  Stick around, place a few more bets and let the crowds clear out.

For some reason, they say "Last call" shortly before the Derby. I have never seen them actually stop selling alcohol so don't bother stocking up.

Eat a big breakfast! Especially you whipper snappers headed to the infield. And pace yourself. Don't be the guy puking in the trashcan at 2 pm. Yeah, I saw you last year and I laughed at you. Rookie.

 Most importantly, have fun and be nice. There will be over 100,000 people there. It's a crowded, expensive day but it's worth it. Hopefully you'll cash some tickets and create some great memories.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tip- Kentucky Derby gift cards are on eBay

If you're planning on buying souvenirs at the Kentucky Oaks or Derby, consider buying gift cards on eBay. In the presale, certain tickets included a $25 gift card per ticket and some of these gift cards have found their way to eBay. They're good at the merchandise tents and trailers throughout Churchill Downs and at the two gift shops (one at the Kentucky Derby Museum and one inside Gate 17). Please note that they are good ONLY May 2nd and 3rd.  I just got one for $16 and it had free shipping. Just search for "Kentucky Derby gift card" or "ChurchillDowns gift card." 
It's a no brainer if you want to buy souvenirs. My advice- shop early! This guarantees the best selection and I've seen long lines just to get in the gift shops later in the day on Derby day.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Kentucky Derby favorites (so far)

With only four more prep races to go (and, really, only the Bluegrass Stakes and Arkansas Derby this weekend are the only ones who matter), I started taking a look at the horses at the top of the leaderboard.

Right now my favorite is Intense Holiday. He came in first in the Risen Star Stakes after a photo finish with Albano (race replay here)  and second in the Louisiana Derby (race replay). He has earned some good Beyer speed figures and he has a "rally" running style- he saves some gas in his tank to come from behind in the stretch. Plus, he's ridden by Mike Smith and by now you know he's my favorite jockey!

My other favorite is Wicked Strong who came in first in the Wood Memorial (race replay here). This is another horse with a rally running style. His previous Beyers were OK, not great but it's possible he's peaking at just the right time.

Everyone is all abuzz about California Chrome. I won't deny that he is one helluva race horse but I don't think he's the Derby winner. He's a speed horse and speed horses typically don't win the Derby. He's from California and a Cali-bred horse hasn't won the Derby since 1962. However, with the right post position he could win it!

The more I look at the prep races and paste performances, the more my head starts to spin and I realize I might as well throw darts and pick my horses that way!

They're here! The tickets are here!!

 The tickets are here! I don't think the FedEx lady has seen anyone as excited as I was today! I have my dress, hat, shoes, backup shoes, jewelry, purse and now tickets. There's nothing left to do but wait (it's agonizing!) until May 1 when we hop in the car and cruise to Louisville. 
I'm so excited!


Friday, April 4, 2014

It's all happening so fast!

Last weekend I bought my Derby dress. Yesterday I got my Derby hat. Today I got the email that our Derby tickets have shipped! 
My countdowns are:

29 days till the Kentucky Derby

27 days till we leave for Louisville

15 days till the extended forecast for Derby Day is on Wunderground. Most likely it will be totally wrong two weeks out. Last year, nine days out they were calling for low to mid 70's and sunshine. It was about 60 degrees and rained all damn day. 

It'll be here before you know it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Three races tomorrow!

I just realized there are three races tomorrow- each with 100 points going to the winner! I'd better get off the computer and get my handicapping pen out.

36 days till the Kentucky Derby!!! And I have no idea what I'm going to wear. I'm trying not to stress about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Caterers and cafes offering boxed lunches for Oaks and Derby

Here are some caterers and cafes that offer boxed lunches for the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. Be sure to order in advance, ask if their packaging complies with Churchill Downs's rules regarding food packaging (clear box or bag no bigger than 18"x18") and be sure to ask when you can pick up your order. Some places offer delivery with a minimum order. Plan your morning accordingly- give yourself enough time to eat breakfast, don your Derby finery and pick up your lunch! Gates open at 8 am and first post is 10:30 both days.

Cheddar Box Cafe - offers box lunches from $18-20, also has a "snack box" that feeds up to 6 people for $60. Pick up only, all boxes are in compliance with Churchill Downs rules regarding food.   

Lotsa Pasta - Box lunches start at $9.50

Red Clover - Box lunches starting at $18. Place orders by noon April 25, pick up hours are 9-12 Friday or Saturday.  

Paul's Produce - Box lunches start at $12. Order by Thursday May 2. Four locations to choose from for pick up. 

Anchorage Cafe Box lunches are $11.50. 

Victoria's Catering - $12, scroll down for small box lunch menu.

Stricker's Cafe - Located in Jeffersonville, IN so it's a good option for anyone coming from the north.

Another option is to bring a big, clear ziploc bag from home, pick up a sub from somewhere like Subway or Penn Station or even a grocery store deli, and put it in the ziploc bag. Voila! Instant "boxed" lunch! 

Here's a map with all the places I've listed- the A on the map is Churchill Downs. And here's a link to the same map if you want to punch in the address of your hotel and see which place works best for your route to Churchill Downs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Where to buy Kentucky Derby hats

I did a very brief trip to shop for my Kentucky Derby hat this past weekend but it was a complete bust. I bought my hat last year on March 8th (yes, I scrolled through my Facebook feed to find out the exact date) but since Easter is three weeks later this year than last year, the store was barren of gorgeous Kentucky Derby hats.

So, where does one start shopping for a hat worthy of the Kentucky Derby?

For me, I start in a department store at the mall where the African American women shop. Let's face it, white women just don't wear hats of this caliber. I tried the big flagship Macy's but it wasn't in the right neighborhood. I also found that while Macy's might have better prices with all their sales, Dillard's has a much bigger selection.

My 2011 and 2012 Kentucky Derby hat

Costume jewelry stores are a good place to look, too. My first Kentucky Derby hat came from one of these stores. It was inexpensive and it didn't stand the test of time but it was a good place to start.

 My first Kentucky Derby hat, 2008

And then there's the internet. Here are some websites with a good selection of hats

Etsy has a ton of sellers with Kentucky Derby hats. A few of my favorite Etsy shops- The Original Tree, Carolina Hat Girl, and Award Design.
Dee's Crafts in Louisville has a mind blowing selection of hats. 
Hats in the Belfry
Lady Diane Hats
Maggie Mae Designs
Just be sure to check the return policy if you order online!

Another tip- if you need a hat box, the Container Store has square hat boxes with string handles.

I'm going to try again in a couple weeks. I hope I have better luck!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Top 3 Things to Bring to the Kentucky Derby (That Aren't Money)

You'll need money at the Kentucky Derby, lots and lots of money. That's pretty much the most important item to bring to the Kentucky Derby but here are my top 3 items I find are crucial for making your day at the Derby a success.

#1. Neoprene koozie. 
Keeps your drinks cool! Why neoprene, you ask? Because they fold flat and they fit the mint julep glasses perfectly. Beer bottles don't have a perfect fit but it'll do. It's my attempt to dress up a big ol' bottle of Miller Lite. Despite the dress, hat and manicure, it's hard to look classy when you're drinking a bright blue 16 ounce bottle of beer. In past years, I went the girly route with a pink koozie with green ribbon with pink horses on it but this year I'll be slipping my drinks into a Game of Thrones koozie.
Winter is coming. Actually it feels like winter will never end

The koozie possibilities are endless! You can bring a Lily Pulitzer koozie, match your dress with an oh so popular chevron koozie, nothing says Derby like seersucker or there's even a koozie with a bow tie! Or just bring that Corona one you got for free on spring break a few years ago. Whatever floats your boat (and keeps your drinks cool).

#2. Travel sized pack of Kleenex
Have you ever found yourself in a port-o-potty that has run out of toilet paper? I have but it was no big deal since I had my travel size pack of tissues! It's worth the 99 cents.

#3 Cheap plastic poncho
Umbrellas are a no-no at Churchill Downs. If you try to bring one in, they'll take it from you. So if there's rain in the forecast, you'll want to bring a cheap plastic poncho. You can find them in the camping aisle at Target or Walmart or sometimes at a dollar store. Hopefully we won't need them this year, though!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bad Derby hats

I've posted examples of cute hats that are appropriate for the Kentucky Derby so I thought I'd post some examples that aren't Derby-worthy.

You cannot buy your Derby hat at Walmart or Target. A simple floppy sun hat will not do. I know you want to save money but, trust me, a proper Derby hat can't be found at  big box discount store.

 Nope. Not even close.

Do not DIY and try to dress up a Walmart or Target hat. You can't hot glue some ribbon and flower from Michael's on it. That would be like taking a Sharpie and writing "Dom Perignon" on a 40 of Miller High Life. 

 Good try. 

Red Hat Society hats are a big no. They're fine when you're having tea with your classmates from the class of 1920 but not at the Derby.


There's a not-so fine line between a Kentucky Derby hat and "I raided my grandma's closet." Be sure you're on the right side of that line. A few examples of Grandma's Closet:

Unusual is good, bizarre is not.You're at the Kentucky Derby, not the royal wedding.

Not to mention this thing will set you back $1,400.

How does this even stay on??

El Camino Real Stakes - I got it right!

Finally! My imaginary* exacta would have paid out!

I liked 2- Puppy Manners based on the trainer's record and the horse's recent performances (definitely not on the name because Puppy Manners is a dumb name for a horse),  4- Tamarando based on the jockey, trainer, high Beyer Speed Figure, and race performances, 5- Enterprising because jockey Gary Stevens seems to be on fire lately and Enterprising has had some impressive wins and 8- Dance with Fate based on his route races.

So I wrote down what I would have bet if I had been at the track and did two exactas- 4/8 and 5/2. And that's exactly how they came in! 4-8-5-2! Of course since 4 and 8 were the favorites, I would have cashed a ticket for only $13.70 but that'll get me one mint julep with some money left over for another bet!

The Southwest Stakes took place on Monday and I tried to handicap it but it was snow day #8 for my kids and my heart wasn't in it. It's hard to concentrate when it's the 8th snow day of the school year (will it ever end?!?) and the theme song from Super Hero Squad is blaring from the living room. So I had to lay down my handicapping pen, make a cup of tea and curse that groundhog and his shadow. Screw you, Phil.

It starts to get real this weekend when races are now worth 5--20-10-5 points so I'll definitely be paying attention from here on out. I'm getting excited! 72 days! Hat shopping is right around the corner!

*Why imaginary? Because I live in Missouri and I can't bet online- at least on any reputable sites. Which is probably a good thing since my track record is pretty damn bad.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Robert B Lewis Stakes

The Robert B Lewis Stakes was run at Santa Anita on Saturday. My picks were:
1- Candy Boy, based on jockey, trainer,  and his record at the race distance of 1 1/16. He'd run it twice and came in second and first.
3- Midnight Hawk based on jockey (I have a thing for Mike Smith, if you haven't figured that out yet!), trainer, his record (he was 2 for 2) and his workouts.
5- Cool Samurai based on his pedigree notes (dad was a Grade 1 winner at routes and his mom was sired from a Breeder's Cup Juvenile winner) and because Cool Samurai is a cool name.

I noticed 7- Chitu was a favorite but I didn't know why. This is where my novice-ness stands out. He was 2 for 2 but those wins were in races that were only 6 furlongs. Also the notes on his pedigree said his dad was a sprinter, his mom won once on grass, and a half sister was a sprinter. But he's also a Bob Baffert horse and Baffert is no dummy so if Baffert thinks a horse is ready to go from 6 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, I should probably sit up and pay attention.

The results were 1/7/3/2 and my imaginary exactas were 3/5, 1/3 and 1/5. So, sadly as usual, I came close but I wouldn't have made any money. I hope my luck changes in Louisville! I was impressed by Candy Boy's race- that was a Derby worthy performance. I wish Midnight Hawk had done better but I'm sure I'll be rooting for Mike Smith on May 3rd, even if it's on a different horse.

How could you NOT root for that smile?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Holy Bull Stakes

Well, I handicapped the race but the problem was I liked so many of the horses! I picked out (1) Coup de Grace for the combo of good jockey and trainer along with a good record. I liked (4) Almost Famous because Borel was on top and my motto is "Even if he's riding a ten speed on a muddy track, I always bet on Borel" and because Almost Famous had won at the distance of 1 1/16 miles with a comparatively decent Beyer Speed number. I liked (7) Cairo Prince because he has a good record and trainer and had some good work outs recently. Wicked Strong (8) caught my eye because of his jockey, trainer, record and performance in the Remsen Stakes.

My imaginary exacta (boxed, of course) was 4/7/8 and my exactas were 8/6 and 1/7. The horses came in 7-9-11-4 so had I bet, I wouldn't have won anything. As usual! But I had fun doing it and that's what counts!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I love this hat.

Navy and white from etsy

I love this hat! 
First of all, I'm not sure it's "me." I'm never the most fashionable girl in the room (unless it's me and a bunch of guys but if one of those guys was gay, he'd probably still have more style than I do). 
Second, I have no idea what I'd wear with it! It's navy, not black. If it was black, it'd be much easier to work with- black dress and bright jewelry. Done.
I think it would go best with a simple dress with minimal jewelry but what color? A navy dress with a navy and white hat would be blah plus it would probably be next to impossible to match the navies. White dresses are out of the question. They're just not practical for me at the Derby. Too much dust, leaning against railings, possible rain which leads to mud, beer spills, etc. 
I think it'd be cute with a bright pink dress or kelly green. Red? Or would that be too nautical? Too 4th of July? Would it make you want a hot dog and a Budweiser real bad?

How do horses get into the Kentucky Derby?

This is a Derby 101 topic. If you're looking for more graduate level discussions, you might find this a little basic.

First, a 3-year-old horse is nominated by the owner or trainer for the Triple Crown. There is an early nomination period till January 25th when the fee is $600. Starting January 26th, the fee jumps to $6,000 till March 22nd. After March 22nd, if you have a horse who has done well in any Road to the Kentucky Derby races (more on those in a bit!), you can pay a supplemental nomination fee of only $200,000.
So if you have a horse that's 3-years-old and you think it might have a chance to run in the Derby, you really should get out your checkbook before January 25th.

As of 2013, Churchill Downs changed the process of how horses get into the Kentucky Derby. Previously, it was based on how much money the horse earned from graded stakes races. Graded stakes races are the races with the cream of the crop running in them. However, just because a horse earned enough money to get into the Derby doesn't mean it belongs in the Derby. The Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles long. Some horses are sprinters and are better a shorter races. They might lead the pack for 6 furlongs or so but after that, they run out of gas and end up coming in 17th.

In 2013, they switched to a points system. There are 34 races from September through April where horses earn points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The first 18 races give 10, 4, 2 or 1 points to the first four finishers. Then near the end of February, it starts to get real and horses earn 50, 20, 10, or 5 points and then at the end of March you really get a sense of who will be in the gate on the first Saturday in May. Starting with the Florida Derby, horses earn 100, 40, 20, or 10 points. Keep track of who has how many points here.

In 2013, horses with anywhere from 14 to 150 points ran in the Derby. And don't disregard a horse with low points. Sure, Orb had 150 points and came in first but Golden Soul who entered the Derby with a mere 14 points  came in second (and totally screwed up my bets!). 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lecomte Stakes

**Yeah, I totally skipped writing about the Sham Stakes. There were only 4 horses in the race and there were no surprises. The superfecta paid out a whopping $4.50. I skipped it. Meh.

Moving on to the Lecomte Stakes... I handicapped it and did my imaginary exactas* of 4/1 (Gold Hawk/Roman Unbridled), 7/1 (Vicar's in Trouble/Roman), and 7/4 (Vicar/GH). My long shot was 5, Smarty's Echo. They came in:

7- Vicar's In Trouble
6- Albano
4- Gold Hawk
1- Roman Unbridled

My long shot, Smarty's Echo, came in dead last. But like I said in my Jerome Stakes post, that's why he was my long shot. I didn't give Albano too much credit because he hadn't raced a race this long before. That's the same reason I threw out I'll Have Another in 2012 Kentucky Derby. Yeah, we know where that got me! But I'm feeling pretty good about my other picks. By May, I'll be picking winners like a true degenerate gambler!

The top 4 finishers were in the front for most of the race but coming down the stretch, Vicar's In Trouble found his second wind and left the other three in the dust! He finished 7 lengths ahead of Albano! I'll be keeping an eye on Vicar! He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97, the highest of any horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

 *Why are my exactas imaginary? Because I can't wager online from the lovely state of Missouri, at least not on any reputable site that I've found. I'm sure a guy in Nigeria would be elated to have my credit card number but will not take registrations from the Show Me State. Therefore, I just write down what I would bet if I were at the track. I don't win any money but I don't lose any money either!

Side note- Whenever I see the name Vicar's In Trouble, I start to sing Vicar In A Tutu. Surely I can't be the only child of the '80's to do this? Maybe I should pass this along to Vicar's In Trouble's connections as a recommendation as a name for Vicar's offspring! Think of how many people bet on a horse because of it's name! Or not. I'm not sure how many fans of The Smiths follow horse racing and it's a pretty obscure Smiths song. Girlfriend in a Coma is more well known but that would be one hell of a morbid name for a racehorse!

PS. 102 days till the Kentucky Derby! We're almost to double digits, ya'll!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Where to park at the Kentucky Derby

This is a question I see a lot on message boards. I've only parked at Papa John's Stadium which to me seems to be the cheapest and easiest option but I'll do my best to write about other options.
Self parking

The easiest way is to park at Papa John's Stadium for $15 and then either walk to Churchill Downs (15 minutes or so) or catch one of the shuttles they have running back and forth (another $15/person). It's an easy walk but I highly recommend wearing your comfy shoes and then slipping on your heels when you reach Churchill. The hardest part of the walk is the rather lengthy staircase you have to climb from the parking lot to Central Ave but then it's literally downhill from there. You'll pass people selling flip flops, beer or beads, at least two guys with bullhorns talking about Jesus (and at least two wiseguys heckling them), a carnival stand selling everything from funnel cakes to corn dogs, etc.

The first gate you'll come across is Gate 3 on 4th Street. This is where you want to enter if you are sitting in the infield and have a chair, blanket or tarp. The entrance will take you right to the infield. If you have grandstand tickets, keep walking down Central Ave and enter through Gate 1. Blankets and tarps are allowed but not chairs. If you have reserved clubhouse seats, Gate 10 is apparently the place you want to go. No chairs, blankets or tarps are allowing through Gate 10.
Churchill Downs is selling parking passes too. Passes are good for both Oaks and Derby. $300 will get you into lot 2B and $95 will get you into lots 15/16.
Here's a map I made featuring parking lots and gates; parking lots are red markers and gates are green. 

Residents near Churchill Downs apparently charge people to park on their lawns but I haven't seen this in action and I have no idea what they charge. I honestly think parking at Papa John's Stadium is the way to go. It's cheap and the walk isn't bad at all. If you can't handle the walk, you can do the shuttles.

Valet parking

Another option is to do valet parking through Derby Experiences. Their lot is 1.5 blocks from Churchill Downs. According to their website, they charge $325 per person. They're parking cars, not people so I'm not sure why it says per person. It looks like even after paying $325, you still have to walk 1.5 blocks. For that price, I want Zenyatta herself to carry me to the entrance of Churchill Downs and a shirtless Mike Smith to escort me to my seat.


I've never used taxis but word on the street is getting taxi after the Derby is over is a 2-3 hour affair. After a long day on your feet, it's not something I'd want to do. A friend of mine once stayed in Sellersburg, IN and found a local to drive him back and forth. I assume the front desk clerk recommended someone to drive them. The driver dropped them off as close as road closures allowed and they had a designated pick up time and place. That sounds a lot more convenient than waiting in the taxi line for 2 hours. I'd try this instead before doing a taxi. It might be something you can use CraigsList for? I'll check when the Derby gets closer.

As usual, if you have any other ideas that I haven't listed, let me know!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jerome Stakes

The holidays are over. It's all downhill from here, folks! Every weekend for the next 16 weeks, we'll have a race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby that will determine who is in the gate on May 3rd. Not to mention, spring dresses will be hitting stores soon, followed by hats. Glorious hats!
But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Today brought us the Jerome Stakes at Aquaduct Racetrack in Queens, NY. I handicapped it (first time I've gotten out my special handicapping pen since Breeder's Cup!) and I picked Noble Moon, Scotland, Lawmaker and Classic Giacnroll, in no particular order, with Mental Iceberg as my long shot. Noble Moon had a great run and came in first, followed by Classic Giacnroll, Scotland and Matuszak. Not too shabby for a novice who hasn't done this since November! Mental Iceberg came in 6th but hey, that's why I had him as my long shot.
Now that the holidays are over and Derby prep races are in full swing, I'm starting to get excited! Hat shopping will probably start in early March. That's only 8 weeks away!!

118 days till the Kentucky Derby! Unless something really goes wrong with the universe, the weather should be completely different.