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What to know ahead of Derby-Oaks weekend

Horses race on Kentucky Derby Day 2020.
Horses race on Kentucky Derby Day 2020.

Whether you’ll be cheering at Churchill Downs or attending other gatherings, prepare for the busy weekend ahead with a round-up of race day and city travel information.

All times listed are Eastern Time Zone and are subject to change.

Watching from home

USA Network will broadcast Friday’s Oaks Day races from 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturday’s Derby Day undercard races from 12 to 2:30 p.m.

NBC will broadcast later Derby Day races, including the Kentucky Derby, from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.

There are also several other events that will be streamed on the Kentucky Derby’s social media channels, including the press conferences for the Oaks and Derby winners.

Post times

Friday’s Oak Day has 13 races. The first one begins at 10:30 a.m. and the final one starts at 7:00 p.m.

The 11th race is the Kentucky Oaks, the main event, and has a 5:51 p.m. post time.

Saturday’s Derby Day features 14 races. The first starts at 10:30 a.m. and the last begins at 8:30 p.m.

The headlining Kentucky Derby, the day’s 12th race, will take place at 6:57 p.m.

The post times for all races can be found here.

Public transportation

All TARC buses throughout Louisville will be free on both Oaks Day and Derby Day through a partnership with Molson Coors. The free rides begin at 4 a.m. on Friday and last until the end of service on Saturday night.

TARC routes 6 and 29 have service to Taylor Boulevard stops that are directly west of Churchill Downs. Route 4 has service to 3rd Street stops located directly east of the race grounds.

Gate openings and parking

Admission gates at Churchill Downs open at 9 a.m. for both Oaks Day and Derby Day.

Churchill Downs does not allow guests to leave and re-enter the facility except in the event of an emergency.

Parking at Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Exposition Center on Oaks Day and Derby Day is only allowed with pre-purchased passes. There are no more available passes, and parking cannot be purchased on site.

One option for guests looking for parking on Friday and Saturday is at Cardinal Stadium Purple Lot A. No pre-purchased passes are required. Parking there costs $30 for cars and trucks, $125 for an RV and $175 for buses.

Cardinal Stadium Bronze Lot is also available as a drop-off and pick-up destination for those traveling via taxi and rideshare services.

There will also be free shuttle service between the Kentucky Exposition Center and Churchill Downs on Oaks Day and Derby Day.

Visit the Kentucky Derby website for information about getting to and around Churchill Downs.

Prohibited and permitted items

One bag per guest is allowed on both Friday and Saturday. Bag sizes must be 12” x 6” x 12” or smaller.

Prohibited items include

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Backpacks, duffel bags and luggage 
  • Cameras with detachable lenses, or equipped with a lens that is 6” or larger
  • Cans, glass bottles or containers
  • Collapsible chairs
  • Coolers
  • Drones and remote-controlled aircraft
  • Personal music players without headphones and portable speakers/sound systems
  • Pets, except for trained service animals
  • Seat cushions larger than 15" x 15" that contain metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps
  • Selfie sticks
  • Tripods
  • Umbrellas
  • Weapons such as guns, knives, and cigar cutters

A full list of prohibited items, and certain exceptions to those items, is available here.

Food is permitted on Oaks and Derby Day, but it must be in a clear bag or container and fit within the one permitted bag per guest.

Guests can bring strollers, diaper bags and baby bags if a child is present.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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