LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- History and tradition come together for thoroughbred racing's biggest weekend at Churchill Downs, but plan to drop some cash to enjoy the experience.

It's not cheap to spend the day at the track. In addition to whatever you wager on the horses, the cost of getting in the gate goes up each day. General admission tickets on most days is a couple of dollars. But Thurby, Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days will cost much more. 


$40 - Thurby general admission 
$60 - Oaks general admission 
$80 - Derby general admission 


In case you haven't heard, there's a new parking and transportation plan for Oaks and Derby. Here's a link that explains it all.  CLICK HERE.  

Parking at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Kentucky Oaks day on Friday and Kentucky Derby day on Saturday costs $20. There are no shuttles from the stadium. Wear comfortable shoes because you'll have to walk about 20 minutes to the track.  

Shuttles do run from the Kentucky Expo Center on Oaks and Derby, but you have to have a permit that most people purchased with seating. If you don't have one, plan on getting in your steps on the way to the entry gate. 

Food and drink: 

Of course, you'll need to budget for food and drink, and it can really add up, if you're spending all day at Churchill Downs. We've done a little checking on concession prices. For example, an Old Forester Mint Julep will cost $10 and comes with a glass. And if you want a burger, fries and a soda, plan on spending about $17. 


Woodford Reserve Mint Julep in a silver cup $1,000 (Sold Out - benefits Jennifer Lawrence Foundation) 
Mint Juleps - $10 
Oaks Lily - $10 
Angry Orchard hard cider - $7
Domestic can beer - $6 
Premium can beer - $7
Bottled soda - $4
Lemonade - $4 
Bottled water - $4 

Boneless wing basket and fries - $9
Bourbon burger - $8
French fires - $5
Nachos - $5
Bag of chips - $2
Peanuts - $4

What you can bring to Churchill Downs:

There is a long list of things you can and cannot bring to Churchill Downs. Umbrellas are not allowed, so it's best to invest in a rain poncho before heading to the track. 

Permitted Items

  • Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18" X 18" - no trash bags)*
  • "Box" lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18" X 18" - no trash bags)
  • Water and soft drinks - plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
  • Purses, but none larger than 12" in any dimension (subject to search)
  • Baby/diaper bags - only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
  • Small cameras - none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6" or more **
  • Binoculars
  • Sunscreen (non-glass containers only)
  • Small personal music systems, radios and televisions** (No boom boxes)
  • Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets**
  • Seat cushions smaller than 15"X15" that do not contain metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps
  • Strollers (ONLY if carrying a child)
  • Chairs (Infield Gate ONLY)
  • Blankets & tarpaulins (Infield and Paddock Gates ONLY)
  • * Limit of two bags per person
  • ** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items

Banned Items 

  • Coolers (Styrofoam coolers, ice available at infield purchase points)
  • Cans (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
  • Pop-Up or Patron Tents- no poles or stakes of any kind
  • Laptop Computers and Camcorders
  • Cameras with detachable lenses, or equipped with a lens that is 6" or larger
  • Tripods
  • Selfie Sticks
  • Purses larger than 12" in any dimension
  • Grills
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Illegal Substances
  • Thermoses
  • Backpacks 
  • Luggage (includes briefcases)
  • Duffel bags
  • Wagons
  • Umbrellas (Umbrellas are not allowed during Derby Week: Opening Night- Derby Day)
  • Balloons
  • Weapons (including knives)
  • Fireworks, noisemakers, air horns, laser lights/pointers, mace or pepper sprays
  • Drones and remote controlled aircraft
  • Personal transportation devices (e.g. Hoverboards)
  • Animals (with the exception of service animals for guests with disabilities)
  • Any items deemed dangerous and/or inappropriate

Schedule of events: 

2018 Oaks Day Schedule (Friday, May 4)

8 a.m. - Gates open (Track opens Mint Julep stands, too!) 
10 a.m. - Wagering windows open (30 minutes before the first race) 
10:30 a.m. - Post time for 1st race
6:12 p.m. - 144th running of The Kentucky Oaks for fillies   

Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby day runs on a precise schedule from the time the gates open to when the horses start the 144th Kentucky Derby. 

2018 Derby Day Schedule (Saturday, May 5) 

8 a.m. - Gates open (Track opens Mint Julep stands, too!) 
9:45 a.m. - Garland of Roses arrives at Clubhouse Gates
10 a.m. - Wagering windows open (30 minutes before the first race) 
10:30 a.m. - Post time for 1st race
Noon - 2:30 p.m. - Celebrities enter the VIP gate 
5:08 p.m. - National Anthem performed by multi-platinum Grammy award winners Pentatonix.
6:06 p.m. - Kentucky Derby contenders and their connections walk from the barns to the Paddock
6:31 p.m. - Listen for the "Riders Up" call as the jockeys are instructed to mount their horses
6:32 p.m. - Sing "My Old Kentucky Home" with 160,000 of your fellow Kentucky Derby fans at Churchill Downs
6:46 p.m. - The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve
8:10 p.m . - Last call for Mint Juleps and other alcohol (post time for 14th race)

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