Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby tickets - All the Info

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Article Summary

  • Tickets have a wide price range with infield tickets going for as low as $60
  • Seated tickets will cost you much more and begin at $340 a person
  • Tickets typically go on sale in November
  •  Seated tickets are highly likely to sellout while the infield tickets will be available up to the day of the event

The most exciting two minutes in sports will return to Churchill Downs on May 6th, 2017.  For many sports fans it is near the top of their bucket list of sports events they want to attend.  The cool part is this one is totally doable unlike other sports bucket list events like the Super Bowl.  This article will go over tickets to the Kentucky Derby, how you can snag some, how much they will run you, and everything else you need to know. 

When do Kentucky Derby tickets go on sale?

Tickets generally go on sale in November, about 6 months prior to the race.  The Kentucky Derby has two different types of tickets: general admission and all other tickets where you have a seat.  I will go over each of these tickets in full detail below.  The dates can vary year to year obviously but for the 2017 running of the Kentucky Derby the general admission tickets are on sale on November 17th and the reserved seats are online for sale as of November 8th.

Reserved Seating – What is it?

Reserved seating cover seats in a variety of outdoor locations along the first turn and the finish stretch of the race.  These seats also come in a variety of styles – you can get stadium like bleacher seats or regular seats like at most stadiums.  If you are buying these types of tickets you will have to buy a 2-day package that includes the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.What the hell is the Kentucky Oaks you ask? It’s a race held the day before the Kentucky Derby featuring only female horses.  It’s actually a pretty cool event with a huge purse so it should be pretty exciting.

Anyways, back to the tickets.  As I mentioned there are several levels of tickets for the Kentucky Derby reserved seating.  I will now list them from cheapest to most expensive.

Kentucky Derby Tickets Map


Individual Grandstand Bleacher Tickets – Imagine a 1940s baseball stadium style seating, but at a fancy party with suits and fancy hats.  These are areas 121-128 and 222-225 on the map shown above.  These fancy bleachers will run you $340-$500 a ticket total for both the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks races.

Individual Grandstand Stadium Style Tickets – These are similar to the tickets above but with these you actually get a seat! These will be sections 226, 227 and 228 in the map above.  The are located outside on the second level of the stadium.  You can buy up to six of these tickets when they go on sale and they will run you $422-$460 for both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

Box Seats – Enough with the basic seats, lets get to the good stuff for the Kentucky Derby.  Box seats are located on all three levels of the stadium and are located outside facing directly onto the finish line.  First floor box seats for 6 people ranging from $2,499 to $3,100 for the Kentucky Derby & Oaks.  The same box in section 212 and 312 will range $4,000 to $4,500.  The top boxes are located in section 325 and are about $6,000 for both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.  Again keep in mind the box seats get in six people so divide these prices by 6 to get your cost per person.

Ok I want reserved seats, how do I get them?

You can either buy presale or in the general sale.  Presale will guarantee you get to go and grab tickets before the Kentucky Derby sell out.  The Kentucky Derby requires you to register for the right to buy reserved seating on presale.  They call it the ‘Single Year Online Sales’ day.  Here’s how it works:

What if I don’t buy presale?

There is also a general sale for reserved seats that will happen on November 17th for the 2017 Kentucky Derby.  The date could vary from year to year but it is generally in November. If you go this route you go to the same website above ( but you may be sent to a virtual waiting room or experience a slow website as a ton of people will be buying Kentucky Derby tickets.  If you want to get reserved tickets just do the presale and save yourself the stress.

I’m not a baller and want general admission tickets

That’s cool, the general admission area is where the party is at.  General admission tickets are only available through the aforementioned general sale which occurs in mid-November.  Again, for the 2017 Kentucky Derby the date of the general sale was November 17th but this changes slightly year to year.

How much are general admission tickets?

The prices will vary based on when you buy the tickets.  If you buy a general admission ticket for the Kentucky Derby between November 17th and December 31 it will run you $60, from January 1st to April 23rd it will be $70, from April 24th to May 5th it will be $75 and if tickets remain on the day of the event they are $80.  Given this is one of the top sporting events in the country this is pretty reasonable.

Do I get a seat with general admission tickets for the Kentucky Derby?

Negative ghostwriter.  You will be standing in the field inside the track shown in the map above.  So be prepared to stand for a while, but you will be sucking down overpriced mint juleps so it’s all ok. 

Anything else I should know?

If you are buying general admission tickets you can buy up to 12 per household.  You should also be aware of what you can and cannot bring into Churchill downs.  You can find the full list of items here

Does the Kentucky Derby sellout?

Generally it will eventually.  You may be able to snag general admission tickets toward the end, but unless you live nearby in Louisville accommodations will be insanely expensive by that point.  If you are going to go figure it out early so you can save some dough.

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