How To Save Money At The Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby is a grand spectacle that is on many travelers’ bucket lists.

Whether your aim is to admire the gorgeous Thoroughbred horses, indulge in rich Kentucky bourbon, make a few quick bucks at the betting window, or don the world’s most outrageous hat, the Derby celebration has the ingredients to make a most satisfying vacation.

However, the expenses on such a trip can add up quickly if you are not careful. Tickets to the infield are relatively cheap, but tickets to the grandstand cost hundreds of dollars apiece. If you aren’t local, you will also have to factor in the costs of amenities such as travel, lodging, and food. You can find more information about tickets price here:

How do you keep a trip to the Kentucky Derby affordable? Here are some suggestions.

Plan Your Trip

Planning for an economic trip to Churchill Downs (the host track of the Kentucky Derby) goes far beyond booking a flight to Louisville and a hotel in the area.

You will want to know ahead of time exactly what time you will depart for the track, as well as distance and which mode of transportation you will take. You will want to plan your meals and research menus (and prices) ahead of time.

Perhaps most importantly, you will want to budget just how much you plan to spend at the track, particularly if you choose to bet. Planning as many of your purchases ahead of time will help you keep to a budget and avoid impulse purchases.

Use Public Transportation

If you have never been to Louisville during Kentucky Derby week, you are likely to underestimate just how gnarly the traffic scene will be. Therefore, even if you have access to your own car, driving yourself to Churchill Downs would be risky- you will end up spending quite a bit of money on gasoline and parking access with no convenience.

Ride sharing and taking a taxi might be a bit less hectic, but the availability of either cannot always be predicted, and these services can also quickly become pricey.

Instead, it might be most economical to research public transit options. Buses, trams, and shuttles to and from Churchill Downs are widely available during the city’s biggest tourist season, and most services will have their schedules posted online well ahead of time. While many of these will still charge a fee, they are likely to be far less expensive than private travel. More people taking buses will also reduce traffic, and even if you get stuck in a jam, most of the patrons will be headed to the same place as you on Derby day, and you may pick up a few hot tips!

Study The Races Ahead Of Time

Speaking of hot tips, the main way that people make and lose money at the Kentucky Derby is through the betting window. This, like many other aspects of the trip, should be planned out and budgeted for.

First of all, you will need to know exactly how much money you are willing to bet. With the standard win, place, and show bets, this is fairly straightforward. However, if you are a serious bettor, or at least want to look like one, you may place an exotic wager, which allows you to bet on multiple horses in the same race, or bet on the winner of multiple races.

Budgeting for these types of bets can be somewhat complicated, as the cost of the wager increases with certain types of bets. To keep track of your expenses, you may want to use a betting calculator.

You should also do some research on the entrants before deciding who to place your money on. Betting on a hunch might be fun and provide you with a good story, but it is well worth it to read up on the horses you will be watching. People unfamiliar with racing often like to talk about betting the horses with the prettiest color or the catchiest name, but those people don’t often end their stories with “and then I cashed my winning ticket.”

Studying each horse’s past performances can give you an idea not only of each competitor’s ability, but also what sort of a pace scenario is likely. If there is a lot of early speed, the pace of the race itself is likely to be fast.

That scenario might end up with a result similar to last year, when deep closer Rich Strike powered up in the final strides to win. Very few people had bet Rich Strike- he went off at odds of 80-1- but perhaps if more people had planned their own Kentucky Derby trips properly, they would have had more success!

You can find all of the latest information from the city of Louisville, including travel accommodations, at