They call it the greatest two minutes in sports—the Kentucky Derby, which has been run in Louisville on the first Saturday in May for 131 consecutive years. While the 1875 Derby drew 10,000 people, this year's spectacle will attract more than 150,000 racing fans from around the world. It might be tough (or just plain expensive) to score a good seat, but it's not hard to get into Churchill Downs and take in the electric atmosphere. So book a flight, pack the clubs for some good golf nearby and bone up on the lyrics to "My Old Kentucky Home."
Tickets and Viewing Tips
TICKETS All reserved seats were sold out as of last September, but try GoTickets.com for prime tickets—good ones will set you back at least $1,500 apiece. (The best views are from the third floor of the clubhouse.) You can also wait until Derby day and buy a $40 standing-room general admission ticket.
GETTING TO THE TRACK Shuttles run from several stops along Fifth and Sixth streets downtown. Parking is $10 at the University of Louisville's Cardinal Stadium, while locals cram as many cars as they can in their yards—and charge about $50.
HOT SPOTS The scene around the paddock is one of the biggest soirees of the year—it's jam-packed, the mint juleps are flowing, and the society ladies seek to outdo each other with their lavish hats. College kids party in the infield . You can get to both places with reserved tickets or general admission.
When May 6, 2006
Where Louisville, Kentucky
Playing If you have an in, the private Valhalla Golf Club (the PGA Championship and future Ryder Cup site) is well worth playing. Fuzzy Zoeller's Covered Bridge Golf Club (812-246-8880, coveredbridge.com) is a fun public course located in nearby Sellersburg, Indiana. Another fine option is Kearney Hill Golf Links (859-253-1981, lfucg.com/ParksRec/Golf/KearneyHill.asp), a Pete and P.B. Dye design an hour away in Lexington.
Around Town Revisit the life of the Louisville Lip at the new Muhammad Ali Center (502-584-9254, alicenter.org) and check out the Kentucky Derby Museum (502-637-1111, derbymuseum.org) or the Louisville Slugger Museum (877-775-8443, sluggermuseum.org).
Staying As of press time, the landmark Brown Hotel (502-583-1234, brownhotel.com) still had rooms available for Derby weekend, as did the boutique 21C Museum Hotel (502-589-4690, 21cmuseumhotel.com), which houses a contemporary art museum and opens in March. For other options, visit gotolouisville.com.
Dining Book a table at the quaint Jack Fry's Restaurant (502-452-9244, jackfrys.com, $$$). Start with the scrumptious shrimp and grits before your steak.