There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby. It’s rich traditions – sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home” – transcend the Kentucky Derby from just a sporting event, making it a celebration of southern culture and a true icon of Americana. The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. The race is often referred to as "The Run for the Roses®" and has continuously produced “the most exciting two minutes in sports”; uninterrupted, even when coinciding with profound historical events like The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.
This year was the 143rd running of America’s most well-known race. While the weather had been horrific for days beforehand with showers almost round the clock, a few minutes before the race, the sun peaked out as to pay homage to “ the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Carson Kressley of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was NBC’s fashion aficionado. "The Kentucky Derby is all about color," said Carson Kressley, NBC's Derby fashion expert this year. "I am seeing both men and women wearing beautiful bright pink, blue, yellow and orange this year — and they look spectacular".
Plenty of luminaries were in attendance. NFL star Tom Brady was spotted enjoying the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and hanging out with several celebrities including retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The 39-year-old New England Patriot has attended the annual event in the past, but this time he brought along a sizable group of his teammates including Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, backup quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo along with former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.
GayTravel.com tips for attending the Derby:
While the horses may be in for a sprint, you're there for a marathon. Repeat this mantra: "This is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a marathon, not a sprint." You should get there early and soak up all the fun you can. The gates open at 8 a.m. The first race takes off at 10:30 a.m. The actual Derby race isn't until 6:24 p.m. (Most people arrive around 11 a.m.)
Drink one mint julep. It's tradition (which is the reason cited by Southerners for doing all sorts of really fun things). But mint juleps are very sweet and stronger than you think. Too many juleps never end well. One is an easy limit to remember.
Make your bet on the Derby race as soon as you arrive. If you hem and haw all day listening to "hot tips" and changing your mind, you'll go against your gut and likely regret it. Or, even worse, you'll forget to make the bet! How will you feel if your horse comes in then? You can bet on all the preliminary races throughout the day. (Note: "MTP" on the screens stands for "Minutes to Post." That's how much time you have to bet before the next race.) There are a total of 13 races scheduled at Churchill Downs for Derby Day.
Don't be scared to bet. Buy a program and get to it. Minimum bet is $2. When you get to the window, say the number of the race, the dollar amount, the type of wager and the horse(s) number(s). If you're making multiple bets, say this whole script for each bet. For example: "In the sixth race—2 dollars—to win—on the 6." Write them down on your program in that order so you can rattle off your bets at the window.
If you've never bet on a horse race before but are looking for something a little more adventurous, go for a "trifecta." That means you're trying to pick the first, second and third place horses in a race—in order. That bet will cost at least $6. If you like three horses and want to bet on them in any order, that bet is called a "trifecta box."
Another bonus tip: Don't throw your ticket away until the race results are final. Many a photo finish has sent grown men crawling on the ground in search of a winning ticket they thought was a loser.
Ladies: Wear a hat. Just do it. You'll regret it if you don't. Men: You don't have to go for the full seersucker suit and hat, but at least put on something flashy or bright. That's part of what makes Derby so fun!