Twenty-one horses will compete in the 139th Kentucky Derby on Saturday. If you can’t make it to Churchill Downs to watch the run for the roses, don’t worry. Viewing the race from any of these seven venues is the next best thing.
Kentucky Derby at ’21′ (New York City)
The Big Apple has several Derby day parties worth note, but if you’re a racing enthusiast, ’21′ is the place to be. Outside this speakeasy-turned-restaurant, jockey statuettes wearing the silks of some of America’s most prominent stables greet you. Inside, sip Woodford Reserve mint juleps, nibble on Southern bar bites, and cheer on your pick to win. Don’t forget to dress up in Derby Day attire – the winner of the costume contest will get a dinner for two! (Tickets: $45)
Derby for the Derby (Chicago)
With a name like the Derby Bar & Grill, you’d expect an establishment to go all out for the Kentucky Derby, and this Lincoln Park bar doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy mint juleps and Kentucky Bourbon Ale on draft as you compete in the Best Dressed and Best Derby Hat competitions for cash prizes. Even better? A bugler and real ponies add to the ambiance. (Tickets: From $75)
Denver Derby Party (Denver)
The largest Kentucky Derby party outside of Churchill Downs is held in – of all places – Denver. Guests receive complimentary beverages, including mint juleps, champagne, and wine, and food catered by some of the city’s best restaurants. More than 25 HDTVs will broadcast live entertainment as well as the Run for the Roses. Feel good about going: Proceeds benefit the Sean “Ranch” Lough Memorial Scholarship. (Tickets: From $110)
Derby Day (Madison, Georgia)
Madison-Morgan Conservancy raises funds for its conservation programs with Derby Day. Held at Goose Creek Farm, a cattle ranch that has set aside hundreds of acres as a protected wildlife habitat, the charity event entertains Derby enthusiasts with bourbon tastings, traditional Southern fare, a live auction, and an actual horse race of its own. Of course, the Kentucky Derby will be broadcast live as well. (Tickets: $80)
Kentucky Derby Party at Commonwealth (Las Vegas)
You can head to any casino in Las Vegas if you just want to watch the race. But, for an authentic Southern-style party, make your way to Commonwealth, a two-story, roaring 20s-style bar on Freemont Street. Live music and hors d’oeuvres will be served starting at 1pm. Attire is Derby wear: big hats, seersucker, and even bow ties. Benefits go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Southern Nevada. (Tickets: From $20)
Pat O’Brien’s Kentucky Derby Party (New Orleans)
Bourbon and the Kentucky Derby go hand-in-hand. So, why not celebrate on Bourbon Street in New Orleans? For no cover fee, Pat O’Brien’s will be serving up half-price mint juleps from noon until post time. After the race, the festivities continue. Order a Hurricane; the bar invented the fruity rum cocktail in 1943.
Hold Your Horses (Los Angeles)
Attendees of the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s annual event will listen to live grassroots music performed by the Bastards of Belleville, sample whiskey flights, and participate in equine-inspired activities while waiting for the call to the post. Want to jazz up your race day attire? Hat designer Pooka Queen will be on-site to sell one-of-a-kind creations. (Tickets: $42)