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Mint Juleps, Big Hat Contest, Kentucky Derby Director’s Room Party and more! If you can’t get to Louisville, there is a little known gem on the Kentucky-Tennessee border about 45 minutes north of Nashville, Tennessee called Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Kentucky.

Besides boasting one of the shortest live racing meets in the U.S. (5 days $10,000,000 in turf stakes races and Breeders Cup Qualifiers), they also have a casino and over 100 TVs to enjoy pari-mutuel betting from tracks across the country.

In addition to the Derby excitement, the 753 historical horse racing terminals spread throughout the first-floor gaming areas provide a potential opportunity to hit a life-changing jackpot.
Mint juleps in the official Derby 145 souvenir glass will be sold for $8. The festivities continue after the races with the popular Nashville rock-and-roll band AC Drive performing in the lounge from 8:30 p.m. until 1 a.m.
“The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville has something for everyone,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “If your Derby invitation or last-minute plans fall through, come join us. Come casual or dress to impress. We bring the Kentucky Derby to south-central and western Kentucky, Tennessee and Northern Alabama, and everyone is invited.
“We’re also a convenient place just to drop off bets, with free admission and lots of free parking. The party continues after the races, so come on back to cash your tickets. We’ll be open. And of course there’s no charge for having a great time.”

Kentucky Derby Day

Churchill Downs’ first of 14 races on the Kentucky Derby program begins at 9:30 a.m. Central, with racing around the country as well as international tracks also available for simulcast wagering on the second floor. There will be plenty of mutuel tellers and self-bet machines, with the races shown on more than 100 high-definition flat-screen monitors.
Guests can roam around the main building’s first and second floors, both featuring large bars, or enjoy the fresh air and a scenic view of Kentucky Downs turf course while on the outdoor terrace or in the adjacent open-air tent. The races will be shown on Kentucky Downs’ jumbo video board positioned for viewing inside and outside the tent, which will be equipped with a bar, a grill for hot dogs and hamburgers and easy access to betting windows.

The second-floor simulcast center offers seating on a first-come, first-served basis, as does the first-floor bar and lounge area. The lounge terrace will be set up with chairs, tables and a bar for an outdoor option anchored by Kentucky Downs’ massive video screen.

Guests must be at least 21 years old to access the gaming floor, 18 for simulcasting and bingo, with the exception of Lucky 7s Diner and KD Cafe.

Kentucky Oaks Day

In addition to advance wagering on the Derby card during the May 3 Kentucky Oaks program, Kentucky Downs again is conducting a $2,000 championship for its Road to the Roses handicapping tournament series. The top 15 handicappers each week in the free Friday tournament earn qualifying points throughout the run-up to the Kentucky Oaks, with the top 25 point-earners making the Oaks Day final. Qualifying began March 1, with standings available at

Kentucky Downs also will conduct its regular free handicapping contest, (in which will be participating) on Oaks Day, with $250 in cash prizes, for those who don’t qualify for the Road to the Roses championship.

WIN BIG WITH A BIG HAT- Derby Hat Contest

The hat contest is open to men and women, with registration between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Central and judging at 4 p.m. The winner will receive $250, with second place $100 and third place $50.
“Let me tell you, as a Kentucky girl, I am thrilled and honored to be this year’s celebrity judge at the Kentucky Downs hat contest,” said Coleman, who grew up in Cadiz, Ky., west of Hopkinsville. “I love hats, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the ladies and gentlemen will be wearing. Any opportunity to wear a beautiful hat, we Kentucky ladies will take it.
“The Derby is like the Super Bowl of Super Bowls for anybody who lives in Kentucky,” she said. “But the people in Nashville are just as excited in many ways about the Kentucky Derby as we are.”
Coleman plans to wear a special hat that she had given her mother for Christmas four years ago to wear on Easter.
“I never, ever saw my mom go to church without a hat,” she said. “When my mom passed four years ago, she never got a chance to wear the hat I got her for Easter. My sisters and brothers said, ‘You need to take that hat and wear it in honor of our mom.’ So that’s the hat I think I’m going to wear with my dress. I’ve never worn it. It still has the tag on it.”

Wear a big hat, and you could win cash in our Hat Contest! Register for your chance to win between 11AM and 3:30PM. Judging will take place at 4PM.

  • 1st place: $250
  • 2nd place: $100
  • 3rd place: $50


  1. We are looking forward to hosting anyone who enjoys “the greatest two minutes in sports” on Saturday, May 4th! Come see us and enjoy a great day of racing and a National sporting event at the best venue around.

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