The Real Cost of Attending the Kentucky Derby

By Ben Steverman - 2013-05-02T19:33:55Z

Photograph by Al Bello/Getty Images

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Since its start in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has become the premier race for 3-year-old thoroughbred horses, drawing a record 165,307 visitors last year to Churchill Downs in Louisville. While the 1.25-mile race is the main attraction, the scene on game day can still be a colorful throwback to the horse races of the European aristocracy, from the plentiful food and drink to the natty attire and those famously floral hats. The city is also home to a two-week Derby festival leading up to the big day. According to a local tourism official, the Derby and the festival should generate more than $345 million in spending a year.