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View Full Version : Oaks/Derby 2011 – First-timer would appreciate some tips



Let'sTalkAboutHorses
Mar. 8, 2011, 02:56 PM
Hi all! I realize this forum tends to be oriented more towards the business of racing and so not much the spectator aspect, but I would really welcome any/all hints you can share to help me and my two buddies get the most out of our Oaks/Derby experience.

There are three of us going and we are all first-timers. And yes, we are all excited and ready for a grand time! We do have our lodging and race day transportation already arranged, as well as reservations for dinner at the paddle boat race(s) held on Wednesday.

What I hope you all can do is provide some dos/don'ts in regards to etiquette, parking, scheduling, etc. What places do you suggest we visit in addition to the track and museum? Assuming that there are farm tours, are there specific farms that you suggest we visit?

Of course, please recommend anything that you have found to be a waste of time/money or less than ideal for three women unfamiliar with the area. Really, any advice you can give to help us get the most out of our visit would be great! Thanks so much!

Laurierace
Mar. 8, 2011, 03:20 PM
How much is your budget? I think the cheapest seats are $400 for Derby day. We didn't have $400 so went the general admission route. You couldn't pay me to do that ever again. I would rather watch it on my phone than go through that again! Oaks day was ok for general admission because it's not as crowded but if you want to see as much as a hint of a horse you have buy a ticket.

Flashy Gray VA
Mar. 9, 2011, 12:22 AM
Don't know your whole itinerary, but definitely make plans to take a few days to head out of L'ville to hit the Horse Park and tours of some of the big breeding farms.

In Louisville, for good people watching do dinner and/or drinks at the terribly trendy but nonetheless fun Proof on Main at the 21c Hotel. It's fabulous and I assume will be packed out as it was during BC.

Stock up at the Party Mart and brush up on your college-era stadium smuggling skillz ;) or else pay $$$$ for cocktails at CD! It might technically be poor etiquette but you'd be surprised what you can fit under one of those big ladies' hats.

:lol:

Let'sTalkAboutHorses
Mar. 9, 2011, 01:58 AM
Thanks for the responses thus far!

Laurierace: We are going the general admission route and do realize what that means as far as observation of the race. While good seats would be nice, the three of us decided on a budget and several hundred dollars each for seats did not make the cut.:sadsmile: Can you give tips for how to make the most of general admission? How rowdy does it get in general?

One of my friends really wants to go the girly-girl route, complete with bare shoulders, big hat, and mint juliep in hand. Is that okay in general admission, or too over-the-top? I'm thinking that about anything goes, right?

Flashy: I'll check into the Proof on Main idea! Can you recommend any particular eating establishments?

fooler
Mar. 9, 2011, 02:57 AM
My best friend and I are marking this off our bucket list. ;)

We are going through a tour group that has lined up TB farm tours, breakfast at Keenland (with views of morning workouts), tickets to the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) and a bourbon distillery tour.

You should definitely visit the KHP! Contact Keenland about the breakfast + morning workouts.
My guess is the bourbon distillers are like the beer breweries and offer tours daily. There are multiple distillers around Lexington so check into it.
Hopefully other posters can advise about farm tours.

Congrats on making this "The Year"

spotted draft x filly
Mar. 9, 2011, 06:05 AM
At Keeneland when they're not racing the horses work from 6-10 and the track kitchen is open until 11. During the meet every saturday they have breakfast with the works. It's a country style buffet that runs from 7-8:30, then they have a paddock demonstration at 8:45. The buffet is now $8/$8.50 per person. If you go to the kitchen for breakfast get the breakfast special. It's really good and you get a lot of food for a decent price.

Laurierace
Mar. 9, 2011, 09:38 AM
I didn't have any problems with the rowdiness, I was borderline hysterical that I couldn't see the horses though. I managed to find a spot where we could see the top of their heads as they went through the tunnel. We couldn't even get close enough to a tv to watch it that way. All I could see was dots on a screen, I had no idea which dot was which horse. I guess that isn't a priority to many people but it was sheer torture to me. You can wear anything you like in general admission. You will see the whole spectrum of outfits. Wear sensible shoes though because you obviously aren't sitting down.

CVPeg
Mar. 13, 2011, 12:59 PM
[QUOTE=fooler;5471439]My best friend and I are marking this off our bucket list. ;)

We are going through a tour group that has lined up TB farm tours, breakfast at Keenland (with views of morning workouts), tickets to the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) and a bourbon distillery tour.

QUOTE]

How are you lining up the tours? I am visiting KY next month - mostly Keeneland for the sales and a day of racing, and most of the breeding farm websites say they do not welcome the general public until after breeding season, i.e. June!:no:

RedMare01
Mar. 13, 2011, 01:50 PM
It depends on what you want to spend $$ wise, but there are a lot of options. Are you staying downtown? Or further out? 4th Street (downtown) has a ton of bars and restaurants (both expensive and cheaper). If you go out I-64 towards the East End, there are a lot of good places out there too (and a couple of tack shops; good ones but nothing amazing to make a trip out of the way for unless you're already in the area).

Caitlin

fooler
Mar. 13, 2011, 04:31 PM
[quote=fooler;5471439]My best friend and I are marking this off our bucket list. ;)

We are going through a tour group that has lined up TB farm tours, breakfast at Keenland (with views of morning workouts), tickets to the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) and a bourbon distillery tour.

QUOTE]

How are you lining up the tours? I am visiting KY next month - mostly Keeneland for the sales and a day of racing, and most of the breeding farm websites say they do not welcome the general public until after breeding season, i.e. June!:no:

My Best Friend found the tour company who has everything lined up. All we do is pay and arrive.:lol: Company is Sports Traveler - phone # 1-888-654-7755.
They list the following farms: Winstar, Shadwell and Darley or 'similar' plus Three Chimneys and Old Friends.
My best guess is, based on your experience, is we will go to the non-breeding farms or be kept well away from the breeding areas.

Good Luck!

Foxtrot's
Mar. 13, 2011, 04:43 PM
I went with a friend last year with Premier Sports Travel. We would go that route again.

Oaks Day was glorious, everyone wore pink. But our seats were open air and well back - could not see the races at all, so spent the day around the paddock, made ilarious friends with the people all around us.

Next day was Derby Day - pouring with rain - so we were glad we took plastic ponchos. So, for those who dressed up it was a bit of a wash! We lucked out and got front row seats which we had to guard with our lives - but they were not under cover so we got rather wet, although not cold. It would have been very upsetting to go two days in a row and not be able to see anything as we were in bleacher tickets and everyone stood on the bleachers to see. Lots of booze sold all day long, long line-ups for betting and washrooms.

But the seats were the important thing - we thought.

We did interesting tours - loved the whole thing. Rented a car, but not all that necessary. Buses took us everywhere as a group, enjoyed our group of fellow horse lovers.

Keenland, Churchill Downs and Kentucky Horse Park have good horsey shops.

Churchill Downs has a museum not to be missed, either. Too many sights, too little time.

dressagetraks
Mar. 13, 2011, 10:08 PM
My #1 Derby tip, learned the hard way at Derby 1987 on my graduation present trip.

Separate your $$ into two or more places, keep your billfold in a zippered purse or front fanny pack style compartment closed at all moments you don't have your eyes and hands on the dough, and always be aware of it and the folk around you.

Pickpocketed at the paddock. Unbelievable stealth used; I still can't believe they did that without us noticing. Adios ID, checkbook, all trip cash, cards, etc. They obviously just took the cash and dumped the rest, but it made for a painful trip back as well as replacement hassles. Much gratitude still all these years later to the folks owning the KOA Kampground just across the river from Louisville. They staked me and Mom a loan to get home. Mom did send the money back promptly from next check. KOA folk said that they had a few times helped out travelers in involuntary distress, and that over the years, nobody had failed to pay them back. So we encountered both low life criminals and great people that day, the full spectrum.

Lesson learned and applied subsequently for the Breeders Cup and WEG and Oaklawn, etc. Keep $$$ in front if possible, keep one hand on $$$ container, keep an eye out for all close to you, and keep enough in at least a few different locations that even if your main $$$ goes poof, you can still get home.

fooler
Mar. 13, 2011, 11:35 PM
Thanks for the heads-up DT. Am normally rather careful about money in large crowds such as that, but will be 'extra careful'.

Foxtrot's
Mar. 14, 2011, 06:51 PM
There is a local avid horse lover called Shaun Washington. He has his own tour company called Unique Horse Farm Tours, 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lex. Ky.
40511.

tel: (859) 233-4303

www.kyhorsepark.com

He has more inside information and can get you into the darndest places, will make a custom tour, is absolutely hilarious, knows everyone and is just the best.

Just putting a shout-out for him, if I may.