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Road to the Derby
The crowd in the paddock area on Derby day.
This year fans will find lots of changes at Churchill Downs, especially with parking and entry. Derby Week visitors will be the first to use Churchill Downs' new expanded entry plaza, which will lead guests from Central Avenue to the newly constructed Paddock Gate that's replacing previous entrances at Gates 1 and 17. Churchill Downs has renamed its admission gates to reflect their locations in the venue. Ticket holders will enter Churchill Downs through one of three admission gates: the new Paddock Gate, the Clubhouse Gate (formerly Gate 10) and the Infield Gate (formerly Gate 3). The Infield Gate will only be available to guests with a General Admission ticket. All others will enter through the Paddock or Clubhouse Gates.
Parking has been changed a lot for this year, and it is suggested that visitors go to KentuckyDerbyParking.com so they know where to go. Please note that all parking onsite at Churchill Downs is reserved during Derby Week and you must have a pass to access Churchill Downs by vehicle. You can still park in the surrounding neighborhoods or Papa John's Stadium and walk in, but much of the parking is now at the Kentucky Exposition Center with shuttles on a dedicated route carrying everyone to and from the track. The Expo Center parking is free on Thursday, but reserved on Friday and Saturday. Papa John's parking is free on Thursday and $20 on Friday and Saturday.
"Churchill Downs has invested heavily to improve the arrival and entry experience for all our guests and employees. We want to ensure a safe and secure environment, while helping people get in and out of the venue as efficiently as possible," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "We encourage everyone joining us for Derby Week to visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com so you know exactly what to expect before you get to the track."
Once ticket holders arrive at Churchill Downs, a new entry process will help them enter the track safely and efficiently:
The rosters of permitted items and those banned for carry-in by patrons at Churchill Downs Racetrack for this year's renewals of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 5 and the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 6 will be familiar to fans of those spectacular days of racing and entertainment. But patrons among the nearly 300,000 fans expected to visit the track over those days are encouraged to review and acquaint themselves with lists of Derby and Oaks' "Dos and Don'ts" prior to arriving at the track.
Churchill Downs and its Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks security partners made no adjustments to this year's lists of items permitted and prohibited at the track's admission gates. The most recent change to either list was last year's addition of hoverboards to list of items banned for carry-in to Churchill Downs on those days.
In keeping with tradition, guests on Oaks and Derby Days are permitted to bring in food and box lunches in clear plastic bags smaller than 18 inches by 18 inches. However, these items are prohibited Opening Night (Saturday, April 28) through Thurby (Thursday, May 3). Prohibited items and items deemed inappropriate for entry into the grounds are the responsibility of the ticketholder and cannot be accepted or checked by Churchill Downs. We urge patrons to plan ahead and leave these items at home. Churchill Downs and its security partners will not store prohibited items for patrons. The full list of prohibited and permitted items can be found at KentuckyDerbyParking.com.
Prohibited items for Derby Week (opening night through Derby Day):
Items that are permitted, with a limit of two bags per person:
Patrons are reminded that Churchill Downs will not permit re-entry by ticketed patrons who leave the track during the Kentucky Oaks and Derby racing programs. The policy grew out of security concerns regarding wait times at track admission gates, along increasing incidents involving the sales of counterfeit tickets and wristbands and previously-scanned tickets outside the admission gates. Derby and Oaks patrons should be forewarned that no valid tickets will be available for purchase outside the track on those days.
Churchill Downs' security policies and procedures were significantly strengthened by the track and its federal, state and local law enforcement partners for the 2002 renewals of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, the first in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Periodic changes and adjustments to the policies were made in subsequent years, including a significant strengthening of procedures following the 2013 Boston Marathon attacks that occurred just weeks before that year's Derby and Oaks.
For more information on arrival, parking and entry, please visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com and download the Churchill Downs and Waze mobile apps.
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