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Tickets Kentucky Derby Event Guide Derby Winners Derby History Derby Traditions

Churchill Downs Information:

Churchill Downs is a thoroughbred horse racetrack located in Louisville, Kentucky. The racetrack officially opened in 1875, and held the first Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks in the same year. Churchill Downs has also hosted the Breeders Cup six times, most recently in 2006. The track is named for John and Henry Churchill, who leased the land to their nephew (Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr.) to build the racetrack on it.

Churchill Downs was a welcome venue in Louisville, as it essentially replaced two earlier racetracks that had closed in the area. Churchill Downs was situated in a rural location at the time of its construction and was located along the railroad line, making the transport of horses very easy. Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. was running short of funds by 1890, and he sold the track to a syndicate led by William Applegate. Applegate made several changes to the track – the most notable being the shortening of the track to its current 1 and ½ miles and the commissioning of the signature twin spire grandstand.

The current seating capacity of Churchill Downs today is 51,000, though the crowds can sometimes reach over 165,000 because of standing sections in the paddock and infield. The dirt oval upon which the races are run is one mile in circumference. The track is also approximately 80 ft. wide, with a 120-foot section for the starting gates.

Churchill Downs Directions, Accessibility and Rules

Churchill Downs
700 Central Ave.
Louisville, KY 40208

View Churchill Downs in a larger map

For detailed directions to the Downs from major U.S. highways, please visit the Maps and Directions page of the Churchill Downs website.

The gates for the Kentucky Derby open at 8:00 a.m. ALL parking at Churchill Downs is reserved on Derby and Oaks days. There are a few paid parking spots that are nearby the racetrack that are not affiliated with Churchill Downs. Please arrive early to your event to find the best parking options. You may also contact Churchill Downs to discuss parking options.

Each year TicketCity has a local presence at the Kentucky Derby, as well the Kentucky Oaks, to assist our clients with ticket pickup and additional purchases. As the weekends' events draw near, our sales associates are available for personal assistance as needed. Therefore, clients have the option to purchase online or over the phone and pick up locally at the event.

Churchill Downs Dress Code

The dress code for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks is fairly simple. Most importantly, you want to dress seasonally and reasonably. It's best to forego the traditional black suit-and-tie look (or stiletto look, ladies) and really go for your Sunday best. If you are standing in the infield, anything goes – including wearing nothing at all. Always remember to wear comfortable shoes.

Business casual attire is required for Jockey Club and Finish Line suites, Aristides & Stakes rooms, and the Turf Club.

Business casual here is best described as:

  • Jacket and Blazers
  • Vests, collared shirts and sweaters
  • Dresses
  • Pantsuits
  • Slacks
  • Nice dress shoes or heels

Millionaires Row, Matt Winn Dining Room and premium indoor box seats require casual attire:

Casual attire here is best described as:

  • Blazers (jackets optional)
  • Vests, collared shirts and sweaters
  • Dresses
  • Pantsuits
  • Slacks, golf shorts, dress shorts, dress jeans and capris

Twin Spires Gold Rooms require casual attire:

Casual attire here is best described as:

  • Collared shirts and golf shirts
  • Slacks
  • Dress jeans and dress shorts

Prohibited items at Churchill Downs:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Briefcases, large bags, luggage and backpacks
  • Bottles, cans and any liquid containers
  • Coolers
  • Grills
  • Thermoses
  • Umbrellas
  • Weapons
  • Wagons

Permitted items at Churchill Downs:

  • Baby Bags
  • Binoculars, cameras and camcorders
  • Blankets
  • Cell phones
  • Chairs
  • Packed lunches in clear plastic bags
  • Purses
  • Strollers (one child per)
  • Small radios, TV's, CD players (no large items)
  • Tarpaulins (for infield only)


Kentucky Derby Festival:
1001 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40203

The Kentucky Derby Festival encompasses two weeks of entertainment and events to preface the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. The Festival starts with the Thunder Over Louisville – the nation's largest fireworks display – and continues with concerts, the Great Balloon Race, the Pegasus Parade, the Derby Ball, the Great Steamboat Race and dozens of other activities for adults and kids alike. To find out more, visit the Kentucky Derby Festival website.

Kentucky Derby Museum:
704 Central Avenue
Louisville, KY 40208
(502) 637-7097 Info
(502) 637-1111 Office

The Kentucky Derby Museum sits at the front steps of historic Churchill Downs, and sees 200,000 guests enter its doors each year. With plenty of Derby-related memorabilia and paraphernalia to explore, the museum offers a unique glimpse at the history and tradition of this famed horse race. The museum also offers tours of the race track. For more information, visit the Kentucky Derby Museum website.

Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory:
800 West Main St.
Louisville , KY 40202

The Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory offers a unique tour of the backbone of early baseball history. Louisville Slugger bats have been used since the 19th century, and are one of the trusted brands in Major League Baseball. Bring the family over to see attractions including the world's largest baseball bat, bats used by Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and watch as bats are created in the in-house bat factory. You can also have a personalized bat made to order during your visit. Check out the museum's website for more details.


The Oakroom:
The Seelbach Hilton Louisville
500 Fourth Street
Louisville, KY

The Oakroom is Louisville's only AAA Five-Diamond fine dining restaurant. The turn-of-the-century elegance breathes throughout, with brass chandeliers, ornate wood accents and jazz background music create an atmosphere unlike any other. Local-grown ingredients and extreme culinary care delivers the most appetizing experience in town. Bourbon is often used as an ingredient in many dishes, and the bar features 40 Kentucky Bourbons for sampling. For the wine fanatic, there are more than 1,400 wines to choose from in the generous wine cellar and 33 wines available by the glass.

Wick's Pizza Parlor:
975 Baxter Ave
Louisville, KY 40204-2046
(502) 458-1828

This is a great place to take the family or to just hang with the regulars. Wick's pizza has a thin, chewy crust that compliments any pizza and any topping. The locals swear by their great toppings, which may require a fork to scoop the remnants after the slice is in your belly. Wick's is also a great place for the kids, or to settle-in to watch some sports. The pizzas are moderately priced, with several house pies to choose from.

Pat's Steakhouse:
2437 Brownsboro Rd
Louisville, KY 40206
Phone: (502) 893-2062

The cozy, wood-paneled booths are the perfect place to sit and celebrate a special occasion, a group meal or a romantic date. Pat's juicy steaks offer a tasty experience, no matter what evening you may decide to dine. The place offers a great wine selection, and servers are knowledgeable of the menu. The service is excellent and the wait time usually short. Make sure to stop by this Louisville steakhouse for a steak that will keep you satisfied well into the next morning.


Stevie Ray's Blues Bar:
230 E Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 582-9945

This blues joint is just what the doctor ordered for the blues fans of Louisville. There are plenty of top touring acts that stop by this joint while passing through. The crowds congregate here in droves on weekend nights to get a dose of that sweet blues music. There are plenty of beers and liquors to choose from, but the bartenders really have their margarita down. There is no room for quiet conversation here – just blues and booze.

Granville Inn Bar and Grill:
1601 S 3RD St
Louisville, KY 40208-1915
(502) 635-6475

Granville has been a Louisville staple since 1939, and it is still serving strong drinks. You will find bourbon drinkers and beer connoisseurs alike in this old bar that was once a grocery store. This bar shows its old age, but drinkers can relax in its laid back atmosphere and choose their poison while watching the game on TV's suspended from the bar or on the big screen in the back. The burgers here are also famous. Try the Tijuana burger, it will water your mouth with jalapeno and pepper jack pleasure.