Did you want to go to the 2012 Kentucky Derby and think it is too late to get tickets? If so, you are in for a big surprise.
Fifteen days before May 5, 2012, my boss at KentuckyDerby.org asked me about ticket availability at the event this year. After years of experience, my answer was a no-brainer. In my sixteen years of living in Louisville, I have not encountered anyone that said they tried to get into the gates on the first Saturday in May -- and were denied. Regardless, I went back over all the relevant information and found there were a few changes for the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby last minute hotel and travel fixes
This magical feature of the "most famous two minutes in horseracing" is known as the Infield and it is the perfect budget option for last-minute vacations. The only other part of the equation, once you have a ticket, is finding a way to get to Louisville and acquiring a place to stay. If you cannot book a hotel in Louisville or find a space on AirBNB, The Louisville Paper blog states that informal camping across town in a Middletown park is being offered for $45 per person during Derby weekend.
To get there, flights may be booked, but there are options like Greyhound and MegaBus.com that land you in Downtown Louisville (about 2 miles from Churchill Downs). Depending on the city you live in, there are also special buses that depart for the Kentucky Derby. However, since the gates open at 8 a.m., you might be expected to catch the bus the night before or in the early morning hours.
Where to buy 2012 Kentucky Derby tickets
At the KentuckyDerby.com website, they are still selling tickets as "General Admission." This gets you access to the section of Churchill Downs known as the Infield. There is evidence online that you may be able to find tickets cheaper at third party ticket sellers like TicketsNow or RazorGator. However, you can also buy full-price 2012 tickets to the Infield directly from the Kentucky Derby. Currently, General Admission tickets for May 5, 2012 are $40 apiece in advance.
Are 2012 Kentucky Derby tickets unlimited?
Last year, the 2011 Kentucky Derby brought in almost 165,000 attendants -- and many of those were in the Infield. This brings up the question of whether or not there is a maximum capacity at the Infield. After all, if you decide to rent a bus and drive from Indianapolis with 100 people, will you be left in the dust? As it turns out, there was no evidence online that Churchill Downs has a maximum capacity. The Infield is literally a multi-acre field.
Can you get Infield tickets on Derby Day?
If you are worried about lack of availability for tickets on the day of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, you can put your fears to rest. While it is nice to avoid waiting in line, there is no need for an advanced purchase ticket on May 5, 2012 to the Infield. Nonetheless, there is a change this year.
In 2001, the Enquirer.com stated that they bought tickets to the Infield for $40. Eleven years later, this price still holds. Unfortunately, if you wait until the day of the 2012 Kentucky Derby to buy tickets, they will be higher this year. This "walk-up" price for General Admission Infield tickets has been raised by $10 to $50. According to their website, you can use cash or an online credit card at Churchill Downs' Gate 1.
Kentucky Derby alternatives
No one can predict the future, and for this reason there is a slim chance that this will be the first year in the history of the Kentucky Derby that the Infield is closed to anyone that shows up with money for a ticket. If this is the case, you can join other Louisville tourists that day that decided that the Kentucky Derby was too much to handle.
For this reason, do not be surprised to find Kentucky Derby tourists at places just outside of Jefferson County such as the Makers Mark Distillery tour in Bardstown, Kent., Cherokee Park, or the Louisville Zoo. Otherwise, join us in Louisville on May 5, 2012 at Churchill Downs and see if a big horse racing party that starts at 8 a.m. is right for you.
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Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.