Traveling To Churchill Downs? Here Is What You Need To Know

There are few more popular horse racing events on the planet to attend than the Kentucky Derby. The opening leg of the U.S. Triple Crown is staged annually on the first Saturday in May, with horses aged three competed for their shot at joining some of the legends of the sport.

It is a race targeted by trainers from across the world, which means it has become an internationally attended race fixture in recent years. Churchill Downs is one of the most historic venues for racing action, and over 150,000 fans are welcomed annually for the opening race of the Triple Crown.

But, what are some of the key things that visitors looking to attend a day at the track should bear in mind if they are travelling to the course?

Dress Comfortably

If you are following the road to the Kentucky Derby, you know the event is as much about fashion as it is about the high-quality racing action on track. But, just as it is for any day attending a race, all visitors should ensure that they are dressed comfortably.

A day at the racing typically involves visitors standing for an extended period of time, especially if you haven’t purchased seats in the grand stand. Therefore, this should be something that all those attending Churchill Downs should assess before making the journey to the track.

All visitors are able to wear trainers, while the vast majority of female visitors also take flip flops in their bags to enable a change in footwear from high heels should their feet begin to ache. Being comfortable at Churchill Downs will ensure that visitors have the best experience at the track.

Avoid Driving

There are a number of reasons why those looking to attend a raceday at Churchill Downs should avoid driving. The biggest reason for that is down to the difficulty that comes with parking in the surrounding area.

As one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar, hundreds of thousands of fans look to take in action at the track in-person, meaning that it is rare to find a parking space within striking distance of the track. Therefore, the vast majority of those looking to travel by car will park in the city, before then jumping on the shuttle bus to the track.

However, it is always encouraged to avoid driving to the track anyway, as there is no shortage of excellent local alcoholic drinks that visitors can enjoy when they are at Churchill Downs. The preferred option for many visitors is to book into a nearby hotel or hostel, ensuring that they can enjoy everything that comes with a day out at Churchill Downs.

Bring Key Items

Weather conditions at the horse racing can ultimately determine whether visitors have a good or bad experience. This can have a direct impact on those that are attending a raceday for the first time, as a negative experience means that it is unlikely that they will visit the racetrack again.

Therefore, all visitors should ensure that they are prepared for all possible weather conditions. That is especially the case at Churchill Downs where the weather can change drastically from one hour to the next. It is always encouraged that visitors pack sun cream for their day at the racing, as it is incredibly challenging to avoid getting caught in the bright sun.

For this reason, many visitors also bring sunglasses, which ensures that they are able to see the action clearly without having to squint. As well as preparing for the hot weather, visitors should also be prepared for colder or wet temperatures. Therefore, any one thinking about attending the racing at Churchill Downs should also pack an umbrella to avoid getting wet during the day. 

Study The Form

A trip to Churchill Downs is all about the stars in action on the track, and it’s highly unlikely that any visitor heading to the track will not make a bet during their day in Kentucky. However, all visitors should ensure that they have looked through the race card to ensure that they aren’t just throwing their money away on potential runners with no chance of claiming victory.

Experienced bettors will be quick to tell any newcomer to the sport that research is typically the difference between making winning and losing selections on the racing action. Therefore, all those looking to make bets on the action should ensure that they read up on every runner in each of the races, assessing whether the horse has competed over the same distance or had winning experience at the track.

Furthermore, potential bettors should also examine the potential betting markets available to them. That includes examining the pros and cons of markets such as the win, place and show. However, it’s always encouraged that newcomers to betting avoid the exotics, which are more challenging to gain winning returns.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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