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It’s Kentucky Derby time! With all its great fashion, pageantry, and delicious mint juleps, the Run for the Roses is undoubtedly the most anticipated event in the Bluegrass State. 

Want to attend the Derby like a true local? You’re in luck! The Slingshot Team has your back with insider tips to help you avoid the usual mistakes and get into the heart of what makes Derby season so special. So, grab your fanciest hat and best suit, and let’s go!


It’s the most extensive section but maybe the most important. Before you head out to the Derby, make sure you plan enough in advance for a hassle-free and enjoyable experience. Just showing up won’t cut it!

Rethink Derby Attendance

Nathan recommends not attending the Derby, which might only suit some, as it can be very crowded and hectic. Instead of going on Derby Day, consider attending on a different day, such as Oaks or Thurby. The same atmosphere was there those days but with significantly fewer people.

Derby Day Alternatives

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Derby, Savannah recommends attending a local Derby party. This way, you can enjoy the festivities like a local without the overwhelming crowds of Derby Day.

Strategic Timing

David suggests you head to the track a little later, after the morning rush. This way, getting in and enjoying the experience is much easier without being crushed by the crowd.

Reservations are Key

If you plan to visit during the Derby season, you’ll be one of the 150K extra people in Louisville! Book your reservations well in advance to make sure you get to visit all the places you want. Popular places, like restaurants, activities, and special events, get filled up quickly. So, if you don’t want to miss out on all the fun, start planning and booking NOW.

Weather Preparedness

Be ready for any weather condition. The Derby can bring blistering heat, torrential rain, or freezing temperatures, so plan your attire accordingly. Slingshot remembers having seen snow and heat waves at Derby (but not on the same day, of course).

David’s Parking Hack

If you want to avoid paying a fortune to park near the track or get stuck in traffic, park down on 3rd Street. It’s not too expensive, plus the walk to the track is pretty cool. You’ll find some local peeps selling delicious food and cheap beers. And if you’re feeling lazy or need a break from walking, you can hitch a golf cart ride instead. 

David Horse

-David, Derby 2009

What to Bring

When preparing for the Kentucky Derby, being mindful of what to bring (and what not to) can significantly impact your experience. Here’s how to pack smart:

Weather-Ready Wardrobe

Derby weather can be unpredictable, with 48% of Derby Days experiencing rain. So, it’s a good idea to plan your outfit accordingly. You should pack something like a poncho just in case it rains. That way, you’ll be ready for any weather without sacrificing your fashion sense.

Prohibited Items Check

If you plan to go on the track, you must know that Churchill Downs has a strict policy of what’s allowed inside. To avoid any problems, Savannah recommends checking their list of no-nos before you head out. That way, you won’t have to leave anything behind.


The infield at the Kentucky Derby is notorious for its vibrant atmosphere and unique traditions. To navigate this space like a pro, consider these insider tips:

Rethink the Port-o-Potty Dash

Don’t know what that is? Each year, definitely sober fans in the infield see who can run the farthest across the top of the port-o-potties. Tito’s tip? Don’t do it. It’s probably better to watch from afar and avoid possible… accidents.

Mud Management

It’s not uncommon for rain during the Derby, which means the infield can get pretty muddy. So dress accordingly, and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty and have some fun! It’s all part of the adventure. Mudslide, anyone?

Derby 2024 Binary

Footwear Strategy

Opt for shoes you don’t mind saying goodbye to. The infield can get quite messy with mud, spills, and wear and tear. 

Exit Strategy

David says take your time to leave as soon as the event finishes. Trust me, it gets crowded, especially in narrow spaces like tunnels. So, if you wait a bit and let the initial rush pass, your exit will be much more comfortable.


The Kentucky Derby isn’t just about horse racing; it’s also a celebration of bourbon, Kentucky’s special spirit. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or simply looking to savor some local flavors, here are some bourbon-centric tips for your Derby experience:

Hunt for Rare Finds

The Derby season is perfect for bourbon lovers looking for unique and hard-to-find bourbons. In Louisville, you can find rare bottles more quickly than usual. But remember that the law of supply and demand applies, so these exclusive spirits can be pricey.

What to Drink

Our team has a few favorites if you’re looking for some good bourbon but don’t know where to start. You can’t go wrong with EH Taylor, Blanton’s, Four Roses, and Woodford. Give them a try, and let us know what you think!

Special Releases

For all you bourbon lovers out there, you want to take advantage of the special Derby Blanton’s bottle that Buffalo Trace drops on Oaks Day. It’s a limited edition with excellent Derby-themed packaging that everyone wants. People line up early to get their hands on it, but don’t worry if you’re not first in line – they usually last all day.

Savannah Derby 2022

-Savannah, Derby 2022


The thrill of betting at the Kentucky Derby is unmatched, blending luck, strategy, and tradition. Betting comes with risks, and it’s essential to wager responsibly. Understand that losses are possible and that Slingshot only shares insights for entertainment and informational purposes. 😉 To navigate the betting landscape like a pro, keep these tips in mind:

Cash is King

Savannah suggests you bring some cash that you will be okay with losing. You never know how long you’ll have to wait for the ATM, and also, you can’t use credit cards to bet at the track, which sucks. So, it’s better to prepare your bankroll in advance. This way, you can focus on having fun instead of worrying about the logistics.

Bet on the Jockey

It’s easy to get carried away while choosing horses to bet on. You might want to pick them based on their names, colors, or odds, but experienced bettors know better. They suggest you bet on jockeys. The reason is simple – jockeys’ skills and experience can make a big difference in the race’s outcome and give you a strategic advantage while betting.

Embrace Technology

If you don’t want to wait in long lines to place your bets and want to have the latest odds and info at your fingertips, then signing up for Twinspires is a total game-changer. You can bet right from your phone, which is super convenient. Plus, you’ll have access to many betting options and stats to make informed decisions.

Leverage AI for Insights

AI can significantly boost your betting game by analyzing race stats and trends in this digital era. With its ability to go through tons of data, AI can help you spot patterns and insights you might not have noticed before. This way, you can make informed decisions and stay ahead of the game.


As you grab your fancy hat and try to find some ready-to-ruin shoes,  remember to take these insights and make them your own. Watching the derby race is not just about seeing horses run; it’s about being a part of an experience that’s full of fun and tradition.

Until the bugle calls again, keep the spirit of the Derby alive! And remember, whether you’re a local or a visitor, the Kentucky Derby is a celebration of spirit, resilience, and community; a true testament to the Slingshot ethos. Here’s to making every Derby experience more memorable than the last!

Savannah Cartoon Headshot

Written by: Savannah Cherry

Savannah is our one-woman marketing department. She posts, writes, and creates all things Slingshot. While she may not be making software for you, she does have a minor in Computer Information Systems. We’d call her the opposite of a procrastinator: she can’t rest until all her work is done. She loves playing her switch and meal-prepping.

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Edited by: David Galownia

David excels at propelling Slingshot towards their goals and oversees the strategic direction of the company. He’s been described as ‘intense, driven, caring, and passionate’ both at work and play. At work, he enjoys watching his team explore, imagine, and reinvent to do the best by their clients. At play, he drives Karts at insanely high speeds and scares his wife half to death. It’s all or nothing. Which means he gives it all.


Savannah is our one-woman marketing department. She posts, writes, and creates all things Slingshot. While she may not be making software for you, she does have a minor in Computer Information Systems. We’d call her the opposite of a procrastinator: she can’t rest until all her work is done. She loves playing her switch and meal-prepping.