Everything You Need to Know About Kentucky Derby 2022

The Kentucky Derby is upon us and while that brings excitement, it also brings questions like, where do I park, which streets are closed and can I bring a liter of bourbon into Churchill Downs? 

Well, we’ve got you. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about Derby at the Downs for the 148th Run for the Roses. (But the answer to that last one is definitely no.)

What time do the Churchill Downs gates open?

They’ll open at 9 a.m., and the parking lot will open at 6 a.m.

What time is the race itself?

Although there’ll be 14 total races throughout the day, obviously everyone really cares most about “The Run for the Roses,” “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” the Kentucky Derby itself.

It’s scheduled to start at 6:57 p.m.

Check out the official Derby Day schedule.

How do I access my ticket?

Will Call at Churchill Downs will not be open tomorrow, so we recommend using the Churchill Downs app on your phone to show your ticket when you enter the venue.

Note that everyone will have to go through security gates.

Where do I park?

Short answer: you cannot park at Churchill Downs unless you already know you can. (Like, if you work there, for example.)

There’s a long-running tradition of residents of nearby neighborhoods selling spaces on their lawns as parking for Derby guests. If you get one of those, you can walk to the track.

If your Derby ticket includes a parking pass for a specific lot at Churchill Downs, you’ll see a color on your car hang tag indicating the lot to park in.

If you have a pass for parking at the Expo Center, park at whichever gate your ticket tells you to use. A free shuttle will take you to and from the track.

If you don’t already have a parking pass to the Expo Center, you can park at Cardinal Stadium Purple Lot A and walk to Churchill Downs. It costs $30 for a car or truck, $125 for an RV, and $175 for a bus.

Also, if you don’t have a parking pass, it’s too late to purchase one, unfortunately.

Guests using wheelchairs or scooters should use the pedestrian crossing at Ninth Street and Floyd Street.

You can use a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft at the Cardinal Stadium Bronze Lot.

If you’re staying in a hotel, check with the front desk about shuttle options.

Remember to never drink and drive.

What about taking a TARC instead?

You can do that — and for free!

Check out the list of routes that will take guests to and from Churchill Downs.

Which roads will be closed?

According to the city government website:

Closures

Through Saturday, May 7

  • Fourth Street from Heywood Avenue to Oakdale Avenue
  • Oakdale Avenue from Fourth Street to alley at Churchill Downs Backside Gate

Restricted Traffic

7 a.m.-11 p.m. through Saturday, May 7

  • Central Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Floyd Street
  • Third Street from Central Avenue to Central Station
  • Ninth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • North Alley of Central Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Rodman Street
  • Burton Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Rodman Street
  • Lillian Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Rodman Street
  • Rodman Street from Central Avenue to Lillian Avenue
  • Sixth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • Fifth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • Fourth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • Third Street from Central Avenue to Brook Street
  • Oakdale Avenue from Third Street/Southern Parkway to alley at CD Backside Gate
  • West Alley (south of Brown Lot) from Third Street/Southern Parkway to Fourth Street
  • Fourth Street from West Alley to Longfield Avenue
  • Longfield Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Fourth Street
  • Queen Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Warren Avenue
  • Thornberry Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Warren Avenue
  • Homeview Drive from Taylor Boulevard to Churchill Downs entrance
  • Racine Drive from Taylor Boulevard to Churchill Downs entrance
  • Wizard Avenue from Longfield Avenue to Queen Avenue
  • Warren Avenue from Thornberry Avenue to Homeview Drive

No Parking Areas

Through Saturday, May 7

  • 4th Street from Heywood Avenue to Oakdale Avenue
  • Oakdale Avenue from 4th Street to alley at Churchill Downs Backside Gate
  • 3rd Street from Brook Street to Cardinal Boulevard
  • 3rd Street from Central Station to Southern Heights Avenue
  • 5th Street from Longfield Avenue to Florence Avenue
  • Bohannon Avenue from Racine Drive to Queen Avenue
  • Homeview Drive from Taylor Boulevard to Churchill Downs entrance
  • Southern Parkway from 3rd Street to Southern Heights Avenue
  • Taylor Boulevard from Ashland Avenue to Algonquin Parkway
  • Winkler Avenue from Algonquin Parkway to 3 rd Street
  • Winn Avenue from 4th Street to Southern Parkway
  • Dearcy Avenue from Longfield Avenue to Queen Avenue
  • Kenton Avenue from 5th Street to Southern Parkway
  • Evelyn Avenue from 5th Street to Southern Parkway
  • Fairmont Avenue from 5th Street to Southern Parkway
  • Whitney Avenue from 5th Street to Southern Parkway
  • Lansing Avenue from 5th Street to Southern Parkway
  • Arcade Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to 7th Street

7 a.m.-11 p.m. through Saturday, May 7

  • Central Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Floyd Street
  • Third Street from Central Avenue to Central Station
  • Ninth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • North Alley of Central Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Rodman Street
  • Burton Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Rodman Street
  • Lillian Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Rodman Street
  • Rodman Street from Central Avenue to Lillian Avenue
  • Sixth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • Fifth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • Fourth Street from Central Avenue to Heywood Avenue
  • Third Street from Central Avenue to Brook Street
  • Oakdale Avenue from Third Street/Southern Parkway to alley at Churchill Downs Backside Gate
  • West Alley (south of Brown Lot) from Third Street/Southern Parkway to Fourth Street
  • Fourth Street from West Alley to Longfield Avenue
  • Longfield Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Fourth Street
  • Queen Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Warren Avenue
  • Thornberry Avenue from Taylor Boulevard to Warren Avenue
  • Homeview Drive from Taylor Boulevard to Churchill Downs entrance
  • Racine Drive from Taylor Boulevard to Churchill Downs entrance
  • Wizard Avenue from Longfield Avenue to Queen Avenue
  • Warren Avenue from Thornberry Avenue to Homeview Drive

What will the weather be like?

Could be better, could be worse. High of 65º, 80% chance of rain. 

According to AccuWeather, it’ll be “Mostly cloudy and breezy with a shower around into the early afternoon; dry weather expected by Derby post time.” 

So the rain won’t cancel or delay the race?

Not unless there’s lightning, no.

What can I bring? What can’t I bring?

Basically, don’t bring anything you aren’t normally allowed to bring into a big event venue — with exceptions for the Infield. (See below.)

Bring:

  • Your tickets — Will Call will not be open tomorrow
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses 
  • A poncho
  • Cash for gambling (but play responsibly) — note that you cannot gamble with a credit card, but you can buy a voucher

The following list comes almost directly from the Churchill Downs website

Don’t bring:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Backpacks, duffel bags and luggage 
  • Bags larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″
  • Balloons and inflatables
  • Banners and/or signs, unless pre-approved
  • Cameras with detachable lenses, or equipped with a lens that is 6” or larger
  • Canopies and tents
  • Cans (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
  • Collapsible Chairs (Please see below exceptions for Infield Gate Only)
  • Confetti
  • Coolers
  • Drones and remote controlled aircraft
  • Fireworks, noise makers, air horns, laser lights/pointers, mace or pepper spray
  • Food & beverage (there are exceptions for this)*
  • Grills
  • Hoverboards, skateboards and scooters
  • Illegal Substances
  • Personal music players without head-phones, portable speakers/sound systems
  • Pets, except for trained service animals
  • Poles or sticks of any size
  • Projectile Items, balls, and Frisbees
  • Seat Cushions that are larger than 15″ X 15″ that contain metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps
  • Selfie Sticks
  • Thermoses
  • Tripods
  • Umbrellas of any size
  • Wagons
  • Weapons (including guns, knives, and cigar cutters)
  • Any items deemed dangerous and/or inappropriate

Notable exceptions:

  • Baby bag and diaper bags, if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
  • Strollers, if accompanied by a child
  • Boxed lunches or food items in clear plastic bags or containers that do not exceed the maximum size (12″ X 6″ X 12″).  Boxed lunches or food items must fit in the guest’s bag or one-gallon clear Ziploc-style storage bag (no trash bags). Guests are restricted to one bag only — additional bags for food will not be permitted.
  • Bottled water that is in a sealed, clear and unopened plastic bottle- limit of two 24-ounce bottles per person
  • INFIELD GATE ONLY: Collapsible camping chairs (must be removed from bag during search)
  • INFIELD GATE ONLY: Tarpaulins (“Tarps”) and picnic blankets that are smaller than 10’ x 10’. Once inside the gate, tarps may not be secured to the infield fence or any other permanent structure.

What else is there to do while waiting for the race?

Watch the other races, eat, drink mint juleps (responsibly), place bets on the horses (responsibly), try to spot celebrities, take selfies, enjoy the day, watch the Turtle Derby.

The Kentucky Turtle Derby — which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, with turtles instead of horses — will air at 4 p.m. on YouTube and on the Big Board at Churchill Downs.

Speaking of placing bets: who are the favorites? What are the post positions?

On Monday, Zandon was named the favorite with 3-1 morning-line odds.

Here are the morning-line odds for each horse, next to their post position:

  1. Mo Donegal: 10-1
  2. Happy Jack: 30-1
  3. Epicenter: 7-2
  4. Summer Is Tomorrow: 30-1
  5. Smile Happy: 20-1
  6. Messier: 8-1
  7. Crown Pride: 20-1
  8. Charge It: 20-1
  9. Tiz the Bomb: 30-1
  10. Zandon: 3-1
  11. Pioneer of Medina: 30-1
  12. Taiba: 12-1
  13. Simplification: 20-1
  14. Barber Road: 30-1
  15. White Abarrio: 10-1
  16. Cyberknife: 20-1
  17. Classic Causeway: 30-1
  18. Tawny Port: 30-1
  19. Zozos: 20-1
  20. Ethereal Road: 30-1

If any of the Top 20 are scratched, these horses are next in line to race:

  1. Rich Strike: 30-1
  2. Rattle N Roll: 30-1

According to Bill Doolittle’s recent LEO article, his top picks are Epicenter, Mo Donegal and Messier (7-1.) (Doolittle had also included Early Voting on the list before the horse recently dropped out of the race.)

Check out the full official leaderboard here.

Are there any tickets left? How much are they? 

Yes, there are, but hurry. You can get them on Ticketmaster.

Standing-room-only infield tickets — which do not have a view of the track — are the cheapest and cost $80, not including taxes or fees. 

Anything beyond that is, well, way more expensive. Even the “Final Turn Infield Upgrade Standing Room Only” tickets are $180. The low range of Grandstand tickets available, as of this writing, starts in the $400s.

What types of COVID precautions will there be?

Well… masks are welcome. 

Here’s what Churchill Downs says: 

“As COVID-19 infection rates fluctuate, safety protocols may be adjusted as a result. Accordingly, COVID health and safety protocols in place at the time of your visit to Churchill Downs will be based upon current local, state and CDC guidelines.”

If I’m not going, where and when can I watch it on TV?

NBC will air Derby coverage from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on TV and on the Peacock app.

The NBC Sports Network will air Derby coverage from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Most if not all local stations will air it as well.

What time will Jack Harlow be doing the “Riders Up!” call?

That’ll be at 6:37 p.m.

At 6:39 p.m., the UofL Cardinal Singers and the UofL marching band will be performing “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Wait, they’re still doing “My Old Kentucky Home”?

Yep. As far as we can tell, it’ll look like how it was prior to the racial injustice protests of 2020, according to WFPL.

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