Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs

After a record-breaking warm April and a spring that really began in February, it turns out Mother Nature was just saving up her worst for Derby week. But the weather should be your only headache this weekend, so let’s rundown some Derby logistics.


Happy Thurby, everyone! Grab your umbrella and head to the track. It’s the last day this week you’re allowed to bring an umbrella. No umbrellas are allowed at the Oaks or the Derby.

Besides umbrellas, there are a few more unexpected things you can’t bring to Churchill Downs during Oaks or Derby: handbags over 12 inches, cameras with detachable lenses, coolers and thermoses, boxed lunches that aren’t in a clear package and tents of any kind.

We can always hope that the Ohio River does its weird magic and diverts at least some of these storms.

By the way, don’t take Derby Weekend to plant your vegetable garden. There is a frost warning right now for Sunday night. Even with our unseasonably warm winter, never disregard the advice to always plant veggies after Derby.

You’re going to wish Churchill Downs allowed umbrellas and tents, it seems. Today’s high will be 65 degrees with steady, sometimes heavy, rain. And that’s the best it’s going to get, folks. Oaks and Derby days will be chilly and wet, likely. The Oaks Day high is 54 degrees with a 60 percent chance of rain and Derby Day tops out at 61 with a 70 percent chance of rain.

Pegasus Parade street closures

The Louisville Downtown Partnership sums up today’s road closures as: “Motorists should use Breckinridge and Chestnut Streets to travel east and west and Baxter Avenue and Eleventh Street to travel north and south.” Basically, stay as far away as you can from Broadway starting right about now. Most road closings don’t go into effect until 4:30 p.m. but some started as early as 6 a.m.

Also, pay attention to “no parking” signs.

For more information, visit this exhaustive list of road closures and detours.


The logistics of planning to ride a TARC bus to and from Oaks or Derby are a bit complicated. But for just $3.50 round trip there’s no way you’re getting a better deal for transport to the track unless your Lyft driver turns a blind eye and lets you pack the sedan like a clown car.

TARC routes providing the closest access to Churchill are:  #4 – Fourth Street; #6 – Sixth Street; and #29 – Eastern Parkway. The most important thing to remember is that due to road closures, the buses will not pick you up where they dropped you off.

For the ninth year, TARC bus rides on Derby Eve starting at 6 p.m. will be free, thanks to the Miller Lite Free Rides program. The program is designed to reduce drunk driving around major events by providing a safe, free transportation option.

“Every year Derby memories are made on the first weekend of May.  Miller Lite and River City Distributing are proud to partner with TARC and the Kentucky Derby Festival to help keep those memories safe,” said River City President John Harris in a news release.  “Whether you are a visitor or a Louisville native, we encourage everyone to celebrate responsibly and get home safely.”

A week ago, Insider reported that local Yellow, Orange and Green cabs promised not to level any up-charges on riders above and beyond the metered fare this weekend. But that’s just a fleet of 200 cars, so if you don’t want to drive or take public transport, you may have to rely on other services like Lyft, Uber or Taxi 7. If you haven’t already, sign up for those services and download their apps before you leave for the track.


If you plan to drive to Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby and Oaks Days, you should be aware that all parking onsite at Churchill Downs is sold in advance and is reserved. And, as always, it is already sold out.

Offsite parking is available with no reservations necessary:

  • Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium parking: $20
  • Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center parking: $8

Both of those locations are within walking distance of Churchill Downs, but if it’s rainy or you’re worried about hiking down Central Avenue in those heels, shuttles from both lots are available for $15 round trip.

Speaking of shuttles, there’s also a shuttle available from downtown for $30 round trip. Here are pick up and drop off locations for both shuttles.

Other Derby-related questions? Let us know [email protected]

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