Triple Crown Travel On A Budget
Triple Crown Travel On A Budget: Attending the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes is an adventure of a lifetime, especially when there is a Triple Crown champion on the line. But how does one travel to see all three jewels of the Triple Crown without breaking the bank? Lady and The Track put together a list of budget friendly Triple Crown travel tips for 2016!
Kentucky Derby Travel Tips
The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby takes place in Louisville, Kentucky on May 7, 2016. The prestigious Run For The Roses attracts people from all walks of life. From the elaborate and expensive Millionaire’s Row to the Churchill Downs infield, attending the Kentucky Derby can be a reality on any budget.
Tickets: General Admission tickets for the Kentucky Derby are currently $55.00. The price increases to $60.00 on April 24, 2016.
Transportation: Parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Parking and Kentucky Fair and Exposition Canter is your best bet on a budget. Walking to Churchill Downs is a little bit of a hike from the satellite parking lots but worth it to save a few bucks. Shuttle service is available from both locations but will cost you between $15-$20 per person. Walking also saves time. After the races the lines for the shuttle buses are long. We recommend walking off that mint julep on your way to the parking lot to save time and money.
NOTE: Uber drivers are not allowed within a certain radius of Churchill Downs on Derby day. You must walk several blocks to meet an Uber or Lyft driver. The prices may triple if the drivers are in high demand after the Kentucky Derby. If calling an Uber or Lyft is your only option, be sure to sign up for the app as a new user to enable “new user” discounts.
Lodging: Our best advice for Triple Crown Travel on a budget is to leave town. Hotel rooms are extremely pricey in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby. Prices drop significantly in Shelbyville, Kentucky and surrounding towns. Try finding a hotel room in a nearby town or city to save some money. Using Airbnb.com is a popular way to find budget friendly lodging that isn’t advertised anywhere else. Lady and The Track has great experience with Louisville based Airbnb host Steven Jones.
Food: If you’re on a budget bring your lunch on Derby Day and spend your money on bets and booze! Churchill Downs allows guests to bring in a clear plastic bag with sandwiches and snacks. If you arrive to Louisville prior to Kentucky Derby day, be sure to make a reservation for “Dawn at the Downs” at Churchill Downs. For only $37.00 you’ll receive a lavish breakfast while watching the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders workout. This may be a steep price for breakfast for someone on a tight budget but this meal will fill you up for the majority of the day! Note: Don’t wear jeans to the Dawn at the Downs breakfast.
Free Fun: Grab a coffee and a blanket to watch the morning workouts from 7:00-9:00am from Tuesday-Thursday during Kentucky Derby week. We found that the bleacher seats down by the rail at Churchill Downs make an excellent viewing area. Everyone always wants to be backside by the barns but our little secret is to hunker down up front. It’s usually calm and quiet enough for the exercise riders and top Derby contenders to stop right in front of you and pose for the perfect photo op! It’s usually a bit chilly in the mornings so dress accordingly.
Flight Tip: If you can’t find a decent flight into Louisville, try flying into Cincinnati, Ohio instead.
Preakness Stakes Travel Tips
The Preakness Stakes takes place at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland on May 21, 2016. The second jewel of the Triple Crown encompasses and caters to fans on a budget. Dubbed the People’s Race, The People’s Party, the Preakness Stakes Infield Fest is inexpensive fun.
Tickets: Infield tickets for the 141st Preakness Stakes are currently priced at $85.00. Prices rise to $95.00 the day of the Preakness Stakes. Infield admission tickets are more costly than the other two jewels of the Triple Crown but come with a concert. This year fans can expect to see The Chain Smokers and Fetty Wap. General admission tickets are available for $25.00 and allow access to standing room only inside the Grandstand or Clubhouse Facility. You cannot enter the Infield without a separate Infield ticket.
Transportation: Parking at Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes is pricey and is listed at $65.00-$170.00. Combine this cost of parking with your Infield ticket and you’ll blow your budget. We recommend utilizing public transportation with the Preakness Stakes Transit Service.
Lodging: Hotels Tonight is a great option for last minute reservations in a big city like Baltimore. The app features last-minute deals and steals on hotel rooms throughout the city and surrounding areas.
Food: Pimlico also lets you bring in food from the outside world to save a few bucks on race day. Just be sure your see-through cooler is less than 18″ x 18″. If you don’t have time to shop and pack, Royal Maroon Caribbean Carryout offers a wide variety of take out food conveniently located next to the track.
Free Fun: The third annual America’s Best Racing Pre-Preakness Party, sponsored by Sagamore Racing, is FREE! The open-to-the-public party takes place on Wednesday, May 18 from 7:00-10:00pm at the Mt. Washington Tavern. The first fifty people to walk through the door receive a free drink ticket too! Reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunrise at Old Hilltop is also free Tuesday-Friday during Preakness week. Twenty minute walking tours run from 6:00-9:00am and are first-come-first-serve. After enjoying sunrise on the Grandstand apron while watching the Preakness contenders’ morning workouts, you will get an insider’s perspective on racing during an escorted tour of the stable area. Visit Preakness.com for additional information.
Belmont Stakes Travel Tips
The Belmont Stakes takes place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The third jewel of the Triple Crown is a little more fan-friendly for general admission guests with plenty of viewing areas around the front apron of the track.
Tickets: Tickets for the 148th Belmont Stakes are only $15.00 until May 20, 2016. Prices increase to $25.00 on the day of the event but may be sold out, especially if there is a chance of a Triple Crown winner!
Transportation: Belmont Stakes parking at Belmont Park ranges from $40.00-$125.00. If you decide to drive we highly recommend packing a cooler for your trunk to enjoy drinks and snacks after the race. It takes hours to get out of some of the parking lots at Belmont Park. Make the best of it by people watching over a nice packed picnic dinner.
Taking the train to Belmont Park is another useful option while on a budget. Make sure to purchase a round-trip ticket ahead of time. For up-to-date train information visit mta.info/lirr/getaways/belmontpark.
Lodging: Hotel tips and tricks are challenging for the Belmont Stakes because people travel from other states for this race by train or car. The app Hotels Tonight is a great way to find a hotel room on the fly, especially if you’re not sure where you’ll be when you need a room.
Food: There are plenty of small vendors to grab a snack or two by the walking ring and paddock at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes day. We recommend walking around between races to try authentic food truck fare. There are also betting windows and monitors readily available by the food trucks. Coolers are allowed but must be “see through” and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited on Belmont Stakes Day.
Free Fun: Following Friday’s final race, a stage will be set up near the winner’s circle, where fans will enjoy a performance by the popular female Country Music duo Maddie & Tae.
Know of a free event or budget friendly Triple Crown travel tip? Please post your helpful advice in the comments below!
Planning the Perfect Kentucky Derby Party at Home