Louisville’s adopted slogan, “We’ve Got It”, says it all. Because of Louisville’s rich history and exciting future, it is easily one of America’s best cities. From Waterfront Park to Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, to fine restaurants and a thriving art community, Louisville is sure to please.
One of the main events that beckon visitors is the Kentucky Derby, a stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses which commences every year on the first Saturday in May. Thousands of thoroughbred racing fans assemble at Churchill Downs to root for their favorite steed for an exhilarating 90 seconds. The Kentucky Derby caps off the two- week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. Interested in attending the Kentucky Derby? Click here to book a Kentucky Derby Package.
Experiencing the Kentucky Derby wouldn’t be complete without delving into all of the festivities like the splendid Pegasus Parade or other Kentucky Derby Parties. Beginning in 1956, the Pegasus Parade was the first event held by the Kentucky Derby Festival. With four volunteers and a budget of $640, the parade excited the Louisville community and their guests with larger than life floats, inflatable characters, marching bands, equestrian units, and celebrities traveling down Broadway. It was the start of a tradition that has become the cornerstone on which the Kentucky Derby festival was built. Held each year on the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby, the Pegasus Parade showcases the community at its best. With dogwoods and tulips in full bloom, the stage is set on downtown’s main thoroughfare for one of the country’s largest and most entertaining spectacles.
The second most entertaining parade on the first Saturday in May, next to the Kentucky Derby “post parade”, is the Parade of Hats on display at Churchill Downs. From the fantastic to the sublime, the quirky to the extravagant, there are no rules or limits. However, in the Clubhouse and Paddock, women of grace and taste sport classy, fashionable styles and the eccentric and zanier headwear is reserved for the infield. Does a Derby hat improve one’s luck at picking winners? Well, some say, “yes, it certainly helps.”
Then there is energetic Run for the Rose Bush, and the glitzy Grand Gala as well as enjoying a slice (or two) of the nutty chocolate Derby Pie, a Kentucky Derby tradition, and a Mint Julep, another Kentucky Derby tradition to wash it down with. The Mint Julep, an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and a sugar syrup is best served in an ice-frosted silver julep cup but most patrons of Churchill Down’s sip theirs from a souvenir glass printed with all previous Kentucky Derby winners. Over 80,000 mint juleps are typically served on Derby Day.
The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is the first leg in the pursuit of the Triple Crown Challenge, the king of thoroughbred racing. The 131st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course follows and then the 138th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park rounding out the 2006 Triple Crown Challenge. The Kentucky Derby currently covers one and one-quarter miles (2.012 km) at Churchill Downs; colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kg), fillies 121 pounds (55 kg). The Kentucky Derby, known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, typically draws approximately 155,000 fans vying for coveted Kentucky Derby Tickets.