It was a sea of humanity, colors and motion in the Paddock area at Churchill downs. In this time-lapse, watch 1 hour of activity in 1 minute.
Video by Jeff Faughender


Put on your fancy hat and slip into your dandy togs, this Saturday, May 6, is the Kentucky Derby. Even though Phoenix is well west of the Mississippi, there are plenty of places around town to experience the most celebrated horse race in America, including Turf Paradise’s Kentucky Derby Party in Phoenix.

“This is our busiest day of the year,” Turf Paradise general manager Vince Francia says. “We get a 10,000-plus crowd.”

There are a plethora of seating and eating options depending on where you want to view the race and what amenities you want to have. Prices go as high as $180. But if you just want a seat in the grandstands, that’s only $5.

Francia says he has enjoyed this day every year since starting at Turf Paradise in 1990.

“Of all the days in racing, this is the most fun,” he says. “(If you are in the grandstands) when the derby horses break out of the gate, you literally cannot hear the announcers.”


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Turf Paradise will be running live races of their own starting at 11:30 a.m. They will also broadcast the early races at Churchill Downs – all of it leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Last year marked the first year for The Stella Artois Derby DayClub at Turf Paradise. The DayClub is in air-cooled tents placed trackside with private betting terminals and a no-host bar with mint juleps, beer, wine and cocktails. It opens at 10:30 a.m. and tickets start at $25 for general admission. 

The Sanderson Lincoln Black Label VIP Lounge in the DayClub costs $110 per person at the door and includes complimentary food and cocktails.

The Kentucky Derby Ensemble and Hat Contest takes place in the grandstand apron right after the running of the Kentucky Derby. Registration is free, but those who want to participate must register by noon. Cash prizes will be awarded to first through third place winners.

Details: 7:15 a.m. (gates open) Saturday, May 6. Turf Paradise, 1501 W. Bell Road, Phoenix. $5-$180 per person. Stella Artois Derby DayClub,


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