It’s time once again for the most glorious day in horse racing – the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. Set for Saturday, May 3, at historic Churchill Downs, the great race is the culmination of some 34 separate events in the Derby Championship Series.
Steeped in tradition, the legendary track has been home to the Kentucky Derby since 1875. But a day at the Derby is about much more than just the racing. Its pageantry and grandeur, from the esteemed rose garland to the towering twin spires, have captured the hearts of generations of horse lovers and racing enthusiasts alike and in recent years the Derby has become celebrity-studded red carpet affair.
Locally, the celebration is just as boisterous. If you can’t be in Kentucky, a host of local off-track betting options keep viewers in the action, and online wagering on horseracing is legal in Illinois through sites such as Xpressbet.com. It allows viewers to bet on the Derby directly from anywhere.
If you are looking for a place to catch all the action with friends, try one of more than 20 off-track-betting parlors across the Chicago market. Many of these, such as McQ’s Sports Bar in Bolingbrook, offer fans a place to gather with friends, sharing great food and drink while following the race day events, all while easily placing bets on their favorite horses. McQ’s even converts their golf dome into the suburb’s largest infield party with live music and a 25-foot jumbo screen to watch the race. Some OTBs such as Bookie Magee’s in Joliet and Stoney Point Grill in Mokena even offer drive-thru wagering.
Whether seated among the more than 150,000 lucky spectators in the grandstands of Churchill Downs, or the more than 16 million who watch in the company of friends and family, raising a mint julep to the lips and cheering on a favorite steed has become an annual affair not to be missed.
Visit www.kentuckyderby.com/watch for a schedule of the weekend’s broadcasted events or www.ClubHawthorne.com for a list of local off-track betting options.