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The crowd in the paddock area on Derby day.

2019 Kentucky Derby Security and Parking

Date: 04/19/2019

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 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 so you know exactly what to expect before you get to the track."

The new entrance to Churchill Downs.

Once ticket holders arrive at Churchill Downs, a new entry process will help them enter the track safely and efficiently:

  1. To ensure the safety and security of all Churchill Downs guests and employees, anyone entering the track will walk through metal detectors as part of the security screening measures. Prohibited items are not allowed past the security screening area.
  2. Next, guests entering through the Paddock or Clubhouse Gates will scan their ticket at one of the new self-scanning entry turnstiles. Or, if someone has a General Admission ticket and is entering through the Infield Gate, an attendant will scan their ticket by hand. Once inside the track, guests are not allowed to leave the venue and reenter.
  3. Once a ticket is scanned, guests will proceed through the turnstile and follow staff direction and new signs from the admission gate to their seating section or venue.
  4. As guests make their way to their seating section, they will be greeted by an usher at the appropriate access control point. The usher will scan the ticket for a second time, stub the ticket and then apply an official wristband around their wrist. This wristband allows guests to come and go from their seating section throughout the day. Each ticket may only be scanned once at the wristband locations and must scan as valid to receive a wristband.
New this year, special quick entry lanes have been added to the security screening areas of all admission gates for those guests who are not bringing a bag of any type into the venue. Additionally, guests with mobile tickets purchased through the official Ticketmaster Resale Marketplace will follow the same entry process as guests with printed tickets and will receive their wristband at the access control point.

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

Prohibited items for Derby Week (opening night through Derby Day):

Check here for a more detailed list. Please note that these items will be confiscated and disposed of if you try to bring them in!

Items that are permitted, with a limit of two bags per person:

** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items
*** Not permitted in hospitality spaces and dining rooms

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 and download the Churchill Downs and Waze mobile apps.

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