The Kentucky Derby has earned popular nicknames such as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” and “The Run for the Roses.” It is America’s most famous horse race, and it generates an aura of tradition and excitement that is a world of its own. The buildup begins with Derby Week and climaxes with a two-minute race on Saturday, May 5 that crowns the champion. The race’s culmination takes place at the winner’s circle as the winning jockey holds up his gleaming trophy and a blanket of roses is draped over the champion three-year old thoroughbred.
Now is the time to start reserving your transportation. It is wise to make your plans for the Kentucky Derby as soon as possible. Gather your friends and family, don your fancy hats and dresses and arrive in style, stepping out of a limo or party bus. At US Coachways we have the perfect vehicle waiting for your Kentucky travel needs.
Kentucky Derby Details
The Kentucky Derby1 takes place every year during the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky at the famed racetrack, Churchill Downs.
You’ll see the top colts, geldings and fillies in the nation racing against each other for one and a quarter miles. The Kentucky Derby is the first race of the Triple Crown, which includes two races that follow it — the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must win all three races.
Grammy Award® Winning Pentatonix is singing the National Anthem during the opening of the 144th Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby post time begins Saturday, May 5 at 6:34 p.m., and the race will start at 6:46 p.m. and last around two minutes.
Other Derby Week Events
Opening Night, Saturday April 28
The Thrill of Racing and the Best of Louisville Arts
Tuesday, May 1 at 12:30 p.m. Presented by TwinSpires, Champions Day celebrates the legendary moments in horse racing history and honors the jockeys and trainers. Renowned jockeys and trainers will sign autographs between 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Dawn at the Downs
Thursday, May 3 (6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.)
Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders conduct morning workouts
Horses are announced on the track
Thurby (the Thursday before Derby)
Thursday, May 3 (11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
The trifecta of Kentucky pride at Thurby with live horse racing with Twin Spires, Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders
11 thoroughbred races, including the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes and Opening Verse Overnight States
Kentucky Legends variety show with local and regional musicians and actors
Taste of Derby
Thursday, May 3
Horse racing celebrities along with award-winning chefs will mingle with attendees. The evening begins at 7:00 p.m. and lasts until 11:00 p.m. Enjoy wine pairings, savory cuisine and live entertainment.
Held every year the day before the Kentucky Derby, the Longines Kentucky Oaks is the most prestigious and lucrative race held for three-year old fillies with $1 Million Grade 1 stakes. The winning filly is draped with a garland of lilies, called “lilies for the fillies.”
The Kentucky Derby2 is steeped in traditions, ranging from the garland of roses to fabulous hats and mint julep tea.
The Garland of Roses
The tradition of roses is almost as old as the race itself and the nickname “Run for the Roses” comes from the garland of roses. The first garland was awarded in 1896. In 1904, red roses became the Kentucky Derby’s official flower. By 1932, the garland of roses was presented in its final form, which became an established tradition that remains in the same today.
Derby Fashion and the Hats
The long-standing tradition of women wearing extravagant hats began when Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. envisioned the Kentucky Derby as a horse race for the upper class, similar to horse races in Europe that attracted the wealthy. He promoted the race to high-class women and the event evolved into not just a horse race, but also an opportunity to make a fashion statement. Women appeared wearing sophisticated hats, dresses and other accessories, including parasols.
Flamboyant hats came into the limelight in the 1960’s and became even more prominent after the 2011 royal wedding, where elaborate hats were very fashionable.
All limits are off when it comes to high style at the Derby. People will dress to the nines, including men sporting colorful spring bow ties, stylish hats and seersucker blazers.
Food and Beverages
The classic Derby beverage is mint julep with the Derby’s official bourbon, Woodford Reserve or Old Forester Mint Julep. Crushed mint leaves give the beverage that irresistible minty flavor.
The executive chef’s official 2018 menu for the Derby is “all things bourbon” and consists of the following Southern fare:
Roasted sweet potato salad with charred pecans and maple-bourbon reduction
Cornbread with bourbon honey butter
Roasted turkey breast with bourbon peach glaze
Bourbon caramel crème brûlée
Executive Chef Danielson describes the menu by saying, “In every bite, we give our guests from around the world a glimpse into our authentic Southern cuisine, where food and bourbon are passions as steeped in history and tradition as the Kentucky Derby.”
The Kentucky Derby Crown Contenders
The Baltimore Sun recently published an article about the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.
Similar to last year, there is no one horse that is a clear favorite, but all the contenders have demonstrated great strengths for the race:
Justify. Undefeated, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, Justify bested Bolt d’Oro, which makes him a formidable contender.
Audible. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Audible won the Florida Derby and sits in a great position to reach his peak at the Kentucky Derby.
Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was the winner of the UAE Derby. He won by 18 1/2 lengths and will be is a wild card in the Kentucky Derby. He remains an impressive victor in the Dubai race. His trainer is Irishman Aidan O’Brien.
Bolt d’Oro. He was the favorite in last fall’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile where he finished third and then finished second to Justify at the Santa Anita track. Yet, his trainer Mick Rius believes the 11/4 miles is his racing venue where he will shine.
Magnum Moon. He has won three races so far and has good chances of moving up the list, being favored as one of the Kentucky Derby’s top contenders.
Good Magic. While he was the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile winner, he lagged at first as a 3-year old contender but came back to win the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. His trainer is Chad Brown who has an outstanding track record of preparing horses for major races.
Vino Rosso. Vino Rosso is also a contender that has been trained by Pletcher, and Pletcher believes he thrives at racing longer distances.
Noble Indy. The fourth of Pletcher’s contenders for the Kentucky Derby is Noble Indy and he won the Louisiana Derby by a neck.
Why US Coachways Has the Perfect Vehicle for Your Kentucky Derby Trip
When heading to Churchill Downs, there are multiple reasons to reserve a limo or party bus:
Free from driving hassles. You can avoid driving hassles such as congested traffic and waiting in long parking lines. Professional drivers access the fastest and best routes, and even better, they drop you off right at the entry. You can sit back and enjoy the ride.
No need to designate a driver. You’ll want to savor the bourbon and perhaps have a few cocktails. A professional driver eliminates the stress of getting someone in your group to be the designated driver. No one wants to miss out on the fun and everyone can have a good time. You can all enjoy the wet bar in your limo or party bus and let the excitement begin!
Timing your arrival. One of the toughest aspects of group travel is timing arrivals so everyone arrives at the same time. Traveling in separate vehicles can make your trip confusing. You’re out to have a memorable and exciting time and by planning ahead, you can pull that off.
Vehicles you can rely on. We keep our vehicles in top running order by using mechanics that constantly maintain our fleet. You’re safe in professional hands from the start to the finish of your trip.
Arrive in style. A limousine or party bus is the perfect complement for your Kentucky Derby adventure. You’ll already be dressed to the hilt, and as the limo or party bus pulls up, you’ arrive in style. The vehicle’s atmosphere of fiber optic lighting, surround sound music, and posh perimeter seating gets you in just the right mood to enjoy a lavish time at the Derby.
Charter Your Vehicle for the Derby Today
As one of the nation’s leading motorcoach companies, US Coachways provides services to travelers throughout the country. If you are going for the whole Derby week, just for the day or on an overnight excursion, we are glad to accommodate your needs. Our rates are competitive, and we even offer price match guarantees. We’re excited about discussing and helping you plan the details of your trip. For customized assistance, call our toll-free number at 1-888-340-9122 and speak with one of our representatives.