The Kentucky Derby is the most prestigious and well-known event in horse racing Held annually in Louisville, Kentucky at the Churchill Downs racetrack. It’s no surprise that Kentucky Derby Tickets are some of the most sought after in sports. The Kentucky Derby is a one and a quarter mile race of three-year-old thoroughbreds, and has been deemed “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” due to the general timing and high intensity of the race, just another reason to buy Kentucky Derby Tickets.
The first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875 as a 1 ½ mile race. Aristides, a colt ridden by jockey Oliver Lewis, won the inaugural race. 21 years later in 1896, the race was changed to the current 1 ¼ mile format. That first race was organized by the Louisville Jockey Club as somewhat of a fundraiser to build racing facilities in Kentucky. Inspired by the French Jockey club, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. founded the Louisville Jockey Club in the early 1870’s and sought to spread the enthusiasm of horse racing through America. The track for the new facility was built on land provided by John and Henry Churchill, and would become named after them.
While the first few Kentucky Derby races proved to be rather popular in the area, with over 10,000 in attendance buy those early Kentucky Derby tickets, the track began to run into financial difficulties and required a financial restructuring process towards the turn of the century. In 1902, a team of investors headed by Col. Matt Winn of Louisville purchased the Churchill Downs facilities. It was at this point that the race truly began to be viewed as the most prestigious horse race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds, and gathered attendees from around the country. After the turn of the century, the race truly became viewed a worldwide event, with a foreign bred colt named “Omar Khayyam” taking the 554-rose draping in 1917.
With all the prestige and recognition, the Kentucky Derby began to develop its own distinct character and style. One of the most well known Kentucky Derby characteristics is the traditional Kentucky Derby hat worn by the elite women who attend the race. These hats are often extremely large, grandiose headdresses, with large floppy brims and floral, bow, and ribbon adornments. In recent years, men have also adopted such hats in attendance as well. Referred to as “The Derby Hat Parade,” overhead views of the crowd at Churchill Downs on derby day will show a colorful field of elegant and uniquely stylish hats that most would not dare to wear outside the confines of the racetrack grounds. Some would say, seeing the parade of hats is worth the price of Kentucky Derby tickets alone.
Another defining characteristic of the Kentucky Derby would be its official drink, the mint julep. A southern cocktail, the drink is composed of bourbon, sweet syrup, and a mint, traditionally spearmint. It is believed that the first mint julep was served at the Kentucky Derby in 1938. Customarily, the drinks are served in commemorative Kentucky Derby glasses, and are a hot ticket item at the grounds on race day and fans will Kentucky Derby tickets rarely skip the mint julep. In 2006, Churchill Downs began to serve special edition mint juleps at a cost of $1,000 dollars (less expensive than many Kentucky Derby tickets). While the drinks contain super-premium ingredients imported from the finest distributors around the world, the significant proceeds from these mint juleps are donated to charities supporting retired racehorses.
Those compelled to purchase these extravagant charitable mint juleps are likely among those seated in Millionaire’s Row. Kentucky Derby tickets on millionaire’s Row essentially put the fan in the luxury boxes or executive section of Churchill Downs. Each floor has a balcony view of the track and very complete food and beverage service. It is this section of Churchill Downs that hosts the biggest and most recognizable celebrities in attendance. Attendees have included just about everyone, from U.S. Presidents, to the Queen of England, to Michael Jordan. Many celebrities attend the Kentucky Derby each year because of the excitement, prestige, and energy that surround the event.
Of course, it is the event itself that is responsible for all these strong feelings. As the Kentucky Derby grew in popularity, horse owners began to send their successful Derby horses to compete in certain events in the subsequent weeks of the Derby. Before long, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York became the preeminent follow up races to the Kentucky Derby, making Kentucky Derby tickets that much more sought after by the hardcore racing fan.
However, it was not until 1930 that the term “Triple Crown” was coined by sportswriter Charles Hatton. Although Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner in 1919, the term did not exist at the time, and the order of the three races was not always set up for a horse to even be able to compete in all three. In 1930, the stars aligned and Gallant Fox became the second horse to win all three races. In 1931, after the term was coined and gained massive public interest in response to Gallant Fox’s efforts, the Triple Crown races were established in the specific order that we see today.
Although Gallant Fox is one of the most important colts in Thoroughbred horse racing history, and catalyzed perhaps its most popular term, Secretariat is probably the most well-known horse to ever participate in the Kentucky Derby. In 1973, Secretariat set the Churchill Downs record for fastest time at 1 minute 59 2/5 seconds. The previous record was set by Northern Dancer in 1964, but while Northern Dancer’s record stood for just nine years, Secretariat’s still holds today. The gorgeous and massive chestnut colored thoroughbred went on to set records at the Preakness (1:53) and Belmont Stakes (2:24), both of which also still stand today. Secretariat also holds the interesting distinction of having run each successive quarter of the Kentucky Derby faster than the last.
Secretariat was ridden to the Triple Crown by Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, who is one of a select few jockey’s to win back to back Kentucky Derbys, and the only jockey to ever win five consecutive Triple Crown races. The two jockeys with the most Derby wins are Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack. Arcaro took home the roses in 1938, 1941, 1945, 1948, and 1952, while Hartack accomplished the feat in 1956, 1960, 1962, 1964, and 1969.
Many of the horses that Eddie Arcaro rode to victory were trained by storied trainer Ben A. Jones, who holds the record for most Derby winners trained at a whopping six. Jones’ thoroughbreds were able to capture the crown in 1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, and 1952.
One-upping Ben Jones would be storied breeders Calumet Farm. Established in 1924 in Lexington, Kentucky, Calumet Farm was the preeminent thoroughbred breeding and training facility in all of horse racing for some time. Horses reared at Calumet Farm were able to take the Kentucky Derby an outrageous eight times, in 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1958, and 1968, a stretch of dominance never equaled in horse racing.
More recently, jockey Calvin Borel has experienced great success at Churchill Downs. In 2010, Borel became the first jockey ever to win three Derbys in four years, as he rode Super Saver to the roses. In 2009, he also became the first jockey to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown aboard different horses, as he rode Mine That Bird to first place in the Kentucky Derby, and followed that up by winning the Preakness Stakes aboard thoroughbred filly, Rachel Alexandria.
Despite the fact that fillies carry a lighter load (121 pounds) than colts and geldings (126 pounds) at the Kentucky Derby, fillies have only won three Runs for the Roses. The term “filly” refers to a female horse less than four years of age and is the equivalent term of “colt” for a male. No filly or gelding has ever won the Triple Crown.
There have been thirteen storied colts to accomplish the stunning feat are Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed. Eddie Arcaro is the only jockey to ride two horses to the Triple Crown, as he did aboard Whirlaway in 1941 and Citation in 1948. Jim Fitzsimmons is the only trainer to train two Triple Crown winners, as the trainer of Gallant Fox in 1930, and Omaha in 1935. Belair Stud and Calumet Farm are the only owners or breeders to provide two Triple Crown winners, as Belair Stud provided both of Fitzsimmon’s colts, and Calumet Farm was responsible for both of Arcaro’s winners. The Triple Crown has grown increasingly rare and revered in recent years, as there has not been a winner of all three races since Affirmed in 1978. Excitement for a potential Triple Crown winner seems to abound each and every year, and it all starts with the Run for the Roses.
Year-By-Year Kentucky Derby Winners
||Carroll H. Shilling
||Sir Barton †
||J. D. Mooney
||Clyde Van Dusen
||Gallant Fox †
||War Admiral †
||Wayne D. Wright
||Count Fleet †
||Angel Cordero, Jr.
||Angel Cordero, Jr.
||Seattle Slew †
||Genuine Risk ‡
||Gato Del Sol
||Laffit Pincay, Jr.
||Spend A Buck
||Angel Cordero, Jr.
||Winning Colors ‡
||Strike the Gold
||Lil E. Tee
||Go for Gin
||Jorge F. Chavez
||Mike E. Smith
||Mine That Bird
||I'll Have Another
In the early 1870s, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of William Clark, organized the Louisville Jockey Club as a means to raise funds to construct racing facilities in Kentucky. John and Henry Churchill would soon thereafter provide the land that would became the Churchill Downs racetrack.
The racetrack would quickly become the preeminent racetrack in Louisville, but ran into some difficulties in the 1890s as Clark began to run low on funds. In 1893, the racetrack was sold to a group of businessmen led by William Applegate. Applegate would institute many of the changes that characterize the Kentucky Derby today, including its signature 1 ¼ mile length, constructing the twin spire grandstand, and bestowing the Derby winner with a garland of roses.
Churchill Downs has since become perhaps the most well known racetrack in the world, and the site of many historic accomplishments in horse racing, with Kentucky Derby tickets being their obvious top draw. The racetrack facilities have distinct and classic architecture that make it one of the most recognizable facilities in sports. In 2001, the racetrack underwent a massive $121 million dollar renovation to update the facilities and make them more amenable to today’s wealthy race attendees. As part of the renovations, 79 luxury boxes were installed and the clubhouse was gutted in order to cater to fans of means.
In recent years, Churchill Downs has begun to expand the array of events it hosts. After a few attempts at hosting music festivals however, the racetrack has decided to eschew many of these plans in favor of remaining a pure racetrack. Churchill Downs Entertainment group, which sponsored a music festival designed to compete with other summer music festivals back in 2010, has since folded.
It is somewhat surprising that the music festivals were not a success given the nature of the parties on the Churchill Downs infield. Every year, over 80,000 people pack the infield for a crazy party leading up to the derby. While the wealthy now file into the luxury boxes and balconies of Millionaire’s Row, the commoners file into the infield and provide much of the character of the Kentucky Derby atmosphere. As the Kentucky Derby states: “The Kentucky Derby is full of hope, optimism, risk and anticipation. It’s an experience of acceptable excess and is forgivably risqué—a place where you overeat, overspend and over flirt.” This is no truer than in the Kentucky bluegrass infield at Churchill Downs.
Kentucky Derby Tickets News
4-30-15: Here is the 2015 Kentucky Derby post positions and updated odds:
1. Ocho, Ocho (50-1). 2 Carpe Diem (8-1). 3. Materiality (12-1). 4. Tencendur (30-1). 5. Danzig Moon (30-1). 6. Mubtaahij (20-1). 7. El Kabeir (30-1) 8. Dortmund (3-1). 9. Bolo (30-1). 10. Firing Line (12-1). 11. Stanford (30-1). 12. International Star (20-1). 13. Itsaknockout (30-1). 14. Keen Ice (50-1). 15. Frosted (15-1). 16. War Story (50-1). 17. Mr. Z (50-1). 18. American Pharoah (5-2). 19. Upstart (15-1). 20. Far Right (30-1).
4-21-15: Here are the odds for this year's Kentucky Derby:
AMERICAN PHAROAH: 3/1
CARPE DIEM: 7/2
INTERNATIONAL STAR: 15/1
FIRING LINE: 15/1
EL KABEIR: 22/1
5-2-14: 2014 Kentucky Derby tickets have hit their lowest point yet. The current average ticket price is $487, which is down $53 from yesterday. With no more General Admission tickets available, the cheapest Grandstand seats at $181. There's about 200 tickets listed below the $200 mark. The most expensive ticket listed is $1,994.
4-30-14: According to CBS, the favorite for this weekend's Kentucky Derby is California Chrome. Thus far, Kentucky Derby tickets on the secondary market average $532 with a get-in price of $63 for General admission seats. Grandstand tickets start at $125. Overall, tickets prices on the resale market are trending downward 30% this week.
4-28-14: With the Kentucky Derby less than one week away and over 6,000 tickets still available, the average asking price on the secondary market has dropped 21% in the past 7 days. General Admission tickets start at $66, while seated tickets start at $226. It's currently the cheapest Derby of the past 3 years.
4-24-14: The Associated Press recently ran a special on Larry Collmus, aka the voice of the Kentucky Derby. Collmus has called the race for NBC sports in the past, but this will be first call for the live audience at the Derby. Kentucky Derby tickets currently average $653 on the secondary market, with the cheapest GA ticket at $22.
4-21-14: With less than 2 weeks until the race, let's take a look at the secondary ticket market for this year's Kentucky Derby. The average asking price on the resale market is currently $746, which is the cheapest of the past 3 years. The current General Admission Get-In cost of $56 is also the cheapest of the past three years. Overall, Kentucky Derby tickets have taken a 10% downward trend this week.
4-18-14: The latest ESPN power rankings for the Kentucky Derby are: 1. California Chrome, 2. Hoppertunity, 3. Wicked Strong, 4. Constitution, 5. Samraat, 6. Cairo Prince, 7. Vicar's In Trouble, 8. Intense Holiday, 9. Candy Boy, 10. Wildcat Red. The average price of Kentucky Derby tickets on the secondary market is currently $744.
4-14-14: The celebrity list for the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala was released this morning with many musical acts, actors, sports figures, and politicians included. Highlights include Miranda Lambert, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Gene Simmons, Dierks Bentley, the Kings of Leon, and Heart. The event takes place on May 2nd.
4-10-14: The New York Daily News released their latest set of Kentucky Derby Power Rankings on April 7th. The list is: California Chrome, Hoppertunity, Constitution, Wicked Strong Tapiture, Intense Holiday, Vicar's In Trouble, Samraat, Candy Boy, Wildcat Red, Chitu, Uncle Sigh, General a Rod, Cairo Prince, and We Miss Artie.
4-9-14: Of the 3 major horse races, Kentucky Derby tickets are far and away the most expensive. The current average price on the secondary market for the Derby is $832. The average ticket price for the Preakness Stakes is $264, and $229 for the Belmont Stakes. The Kentucky Derby has a get-in price of $52, while The Preakness has a get-in of $40 and Belmont Stakes at $17.
4-8-14: USA Today recently published an article picking their favorite for the upcoming Kentucky Derby. The publication chose California Chrome as their winner after the horse won 4 straight races by increasing amounts. Kentucky Derby tickets currently average $849 on the secondary market, which is up 1% in the past 7 days.
4-4-14: The office of Kentucky governor
Steve Beshear debuted the 2014 commerative Kentucky Derby poster yesterday. The poster was designed by James Shambhu and highlights the 1974 100th anniversary race. The poster currently sells for $15 at the governor's website and will be available at the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration on May 3rd.
4-3-14: Ticket prices on the secondary market for the 2014 Kentucky Market has increased by an average of 3% in the past 7 days. The average asking price is currently $866, while the cheapest of the 20,008 tickets listed carries a base price of $52. The most expensive base price is $4,511.
4-2-14: ESPN's power rankings from April 1st are: 1. Candy Boy, 2. California Chrome, 3. Samraat, 4. Tapiture (tied with) 4. Constitution, 6. Hoppertunity, 7. Intense Holiday, 8. Vicar's In Trouble (tied with) 8. Wildcat Red, 10. Cairo Prince. Kentucky Derby tickets are trending downward 1% this week to average price of $867 on the secondary market.
4-1-14: With just over a month to go until the race, average ticket price on the secondary market for the 2014 Kentucky Derby is $873.72. The average price has seen a 3% increase overall in the past 7 days. The current cheapest ticket is $62 while the most expensive seat listed is a whopping $4,873.
3-28-14: It's the last chance to bet on the futures wager as the final pool opened yesterday at noon. It allows betters to place their wagers early for better odds come race day. Average ticket price for the Derby is currently $843, which is down 4% in the past 7 days. The cheapest available ticket is $52.
3-27-14: The lineup for the annual set of concerts around the Kentucky Derby was released last night. Kentucky's own Horizontal Boogie Band are first to hit the stage on April 30th. Big & Rich will perform on May 1st. Fall Out Boy will be “Saving Rock & Roll” on May 2nd during the eve of the race, and DJ Jay Kay will take the duties after the race.
3-25-14: With less than 2 months until the 2014 Kentucky Derby, the power rankings for the Kentucky Derby are: 1. Candy Boy, 2. Cairo Prince, 3. Intense Holiday, 3. Hoppertunity, 4. Tapiture, 5. Samraat, 6. Uncle Sigh, 7. Wildcat Red, 8. General a Rod, 9. California Chrome, and 10. Social Inclusion.
3-24-14: Ticket prices for the 2014 Kentucky Derby have varied slightly over the past week. Overall, the average secondary market asking price has seen a 4% increase. The current average price is $892 with 18,549 tickets available on the resale market. Cheapest ticket is $65 while the most expensive is $5,155.
3-21-14: With about six weeks until the most exciting two minutes in sports, the secondary market for 2014 Kentucky Derby tickets has remained fairly consistent throughout the week. The lowest average asking price was March 19th at $849. The highest was March 18th at $877. The cheapest available ticket is $54.
3-21-14: Here's a look at the last three years of prices for Kentucky Derby tickets
3-20-14: ESPN's horse racing power rankings as of March 20th: 1. Cairo Prince, 2. Candy Boy, 3. California Chrome, 4. Tapiture, 5. Intense Holiday, 6. Samraat, 7. Hoppertunity, 8. Honor Code, 9. Wildcat Red (tied with) 10. Social Inclusion. The current average asking price for Kentucky Derby tickets on the secondary market is $873.
3-19-14: The Kentucky Derby remains the most expensive of the 3 major horse races on the secondary market. Kentucky Derby tickets currently average $883 with 19,845 listed. The Belmont Stakes averages $199 and the Preakness Stakes feature an average asking price of $281. Cheapest ticket available carries an asking price of $54.
3-17-14: 2014 Kentucky Derby tickets have remained fairly consistent on the market throughout the week, just decreasing 2%. There's currently 18,784 tickets available (it's highest point yet since being listed on the market), with cheapest ticket at $53 (also consistent throughout the week). Average asking price per ticket is currently $865.
3-14-14: There are now 16,480 Kentucky Derby tickets available with an average price of $866.83. Below is a breakdown of all zones at Churchill Downs and tickets prices for those zones:
- Quantity: 4659
- Average Price: $384.76
- High Price: $896.66
- Low Price: $240
- Quantity: 3090
- Average Price: $782.53
- High Price: $3200
- Low Price: $359
- Quantity: 1663
- Average Price: $490.80
- High Price: $910.84
- Low Price: $352
- Quantity: 144
- Average Price: $1373.11
- High Price: $2143
- Low Price: $859
- Quantity: 1621
- Average Price: $819.32
- High Price: $1116.66
- Low Price: $574
- Quantity: 4260
- Average Price: $1766.67
- High Price: $4096.11
- Low Price: $824
- Quantity: 10
- Average Price: $2276
- High Price: $2349
- Low Price: $2203
- Quantity: 1033
- Average Price: $62.19
- High Price: $102.30
- Low Price: $52
- Trend: -3%
3-11-14: Ticket prices for the 2014 Kentucky Derby have remained fairly consistent all week, seeing just a $1 decrease during that time. The average Kentucky Derby tickets on the resale currently have an asking price of $887. Quantity available has seen a slight decrease during that time. The cheapest ticket available has remained the same all week, at $51.
3-5-14: Ticket prices for the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs have remained fairly consistent since hitting the secondary market in mid-December 2013. The highest average asking price occurred on February 8th at $295, while the lowest point was February 4th at $874. During the past week, the average asking has stayed within a $10 window of $887 and $907. As of March 5th, that price is $887.93. Quantity has seen a huge increase in February, moving from 9,800 tickets available to over 15,000 on March 4th. The current cheapest tickets available is $61. Last year's race averaged $764 on the secondary market with cheapest ticket at $245 on the day of the event.
2-25-14: The Kentucky Derby is undoubtably the Super Bowl of Horse Racing. And with about twice the amount of legal betting over football's big game, it's often seen as the most exciting two minutes in sports.
Just like the NFL, if you're itching to grab a hold of some Kentucky Derby tickets, you'll have to pay a premium. Over the past 3 years, the Derby has averaged $906/ticket on the secondary market. At an average re-sale price of $930; this year is the most expensive of the past 3. Currently, the cheapest ticket to get into Churchill Downs is $245.
Kentucky Derby Video Highlights