Traditions of the Kentucky Derby

Check out some of the best Kentucky Derby traditions from the official drink, the Mint Julep, to the opening of the Kentucky Derby Festival, held 2 weeks prior to the race.

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Thunder Over Louisville Fireworks

The Kentucky Derby Festival is kicked off by Thunder Over Louisville, the largest fireworks show in North America. Other attractions that take place during the 2-week event leading up to the race are the Great Balloon Race, the Pegasus Parade, the Great Steamboat Race and the Derby Marathon.

Churchill Downs Annual Gathering

Fans gather at the entrance to the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. 

Grandstand Fans

Race fans watch the derby in the grandstand in between the twin spires.

Early-Morning Prep

A blacksmith shoes a horse during an early-morning workout to prepare for the derby.

Morning Workout

The sun rises as horses and their jockeys prepare for an early morning ride.

Mint Julep

The official drink of the derby, the Mint Julep is presented in the specially made Kentucky Derby collectible glass. The Mint Julep is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and sweet syrup.

Kentucky Oaks Day

A race fan watches the 6th race while sipping on a Mint Julep on Kentucky Oaks Day, grade 1 stakes races for 3-year-old thoroughbred fillies held the friday before the derby.

Picking the Winner

Fans make their picks during the morning workouts in preparation for the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Dress Up

Kentucky Derby fans dressed as jockeys sip on their Mint Juleps and pose for a picture before the start of the race.

Where It All Begins

A panoramic view of the starting gate as the horses and their jockeys take off.

Around the Bend

Horses make their way around turn 4 during the 140th running of the derby.

Derby Hat Parade

The Derby Hat Parade, which takes place inside Churchill Downs, shows off the elegant hats worn by women and men during the Kentucky Derby.  This fan is decked out in classic headwear prior to the race.

Race to the Finish

Jockeys vie for position on their way to the finish line during the 140th running.

Casual Infield Gathering

No fancy hats and Mint Juleps necessary here. A different scene then you would find in the grandstand, fans gather within the infield of Churchill Downs.

And the Winner is ...

A garland of roses, a blanket of 554 roses, is draped across the winning horse.

Kentucky Derby Trophy

The Kentucky Derby Trophy is presented to the owner of the winning horse.

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