5 Quick Tips: Purchasing Kentucky Derby Tickets





Kentucky Derby 143, The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports is fast-approaching.  It will be my 36th consecutive Derby, 37th overall and the 16th since starting DerbyBox.com, the worlds only full-time Kentucky Derby Tour and Travel specialist. 

Whew, we are getting old.  Our business continues to grow with literally thousands being served and thousands return every year to experience the world’s greatest horse race.   What remains the same are some of the same questions on concerns when trying purchase and acquire Kentucky Derby tickets.  Here are a few tips.  

1.     Don’t get scammed!

Yes it happens and it has happened recently.  There have been multiple occasions where people have bought and paid for high priced Derby and Oaks tickets with hotels and travel and low and behold… nothing was delivered.  Google “Derby Scams” .  Read the articles and look at the reports.  When dealing with anyone about Derby tickets, call them and ask direct questions.  If you do not get someone to answer your questions about Kentucky Derby direct, you know you might get scammed. 

Ask how long they have been in business, are the members in good standing with the BBB.  “Where is your office?”  If they can’t give you a straight answer or they are from some other state far away from the Louisville area… buyer beware!  Lastly, ask them if Kentucky Derby is their full-time business.  There are many, many “part-time” ticket hustlers who pop into Louisville for 2 weeks right after the Masters golf tournament to try to turn a quick buck on the public.  Again, beware.  Make sure your dealing with someone who makes it his or her full-time profession to serve the Kentucky Derby attending public.               

2. When should you Buy Kentucky Derby Tickets?

To say a lot has changed in ticketing over the past 16 years is an understatement,  but one thing I still recommend is purchasing your Derby tickets early and not wait to see if prices will drop.  It has gone both ways over the years but if you're planning a “Bucket List” type event, you don’t want to get shut out.  Get your Derby tickets and get what you want to meet your needs early.  Anything else can come later (parking, party tickets, Bourbon and Horse Farm Tours, Kentucky Oaks and or Thurby (Thursday Derby week) tickets).  You can always get these events later on in the spring.  We at DerbyBox.com sell out of those events too--- you might want to add-on or switch events at a later time.  

3.     Where to stay for Derby?

First thing is to know about is the 3-night minimum for Kentucky Derby week hotels.  If you want the excitement of downtown Louisville, be prepared for a 3-night minimum stay and be prepared to pay.  We have a few places that allow us 2-night stays since we have longstanding relationships with some hotels, but not many.  Cities at least an hour away will sometimes be more flexible and cheaper.  Lexington, Cincinnati, Bardstown, Elizabethtown and southern Indiana are some options.  

4.     Where to sit for the Kentucky Derby?

I get asked this question a lot.  First thing you have to decide is…”what is your budget?”  Derby tickets are a diverse thing. There are $400 tickets and I’ve sold $7500 tickets.  And any and all in-between.  You need to answer these questions.   Is view a priority?  Do you want to be under cover?  Do you want to be comfortable? Are you with a group?  All those are things only you can answer.  But if you’ve never been before, I suggest having a ticket that gives a good view and access to section 116-117 or 316-317.  These allow you to see where the horses walk on to the track for the introduction and the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home”.  Nothing in sports is more emotional or profound than experiencing that for the first time.  Those sections also allow good views of the finish line as well.  Now if you have been several times before and you're bringing guests or entertaining them, you might want the indoor dining room locations: Millionaires Row, Turf Club and Gold room are great options.   

5.      What about food and drinks or Hospitality? 

One big misconception is that you have to have a hospitality ticket to get good food and drinks.  Not True.   There is a lot of time in between races on Derby Day.  So the good folks at Churchill Downs want you to spend your money.  There are ample, good food and beverage options within a few feet in any direction at any area of the racetrack.  There were a number of complaints last year about lack of food and beverage on the 2nd floor clubhouse but they have renovated to take care of that situation for 2017.  

Doug Dearen, Founder and Owner of DerbyBox.com

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