The Kentucky Derby is a southern tradition and event that’s overflowing with all kinds of fans. Each year that people experience the biggest spectacle in horse racing, it includes as much fun off the track as it does on it. Often it’s compared to Mardi Gras in terms of the types of people who attend the event and the excitement produced. While fans come from all walks of life, it’s often the wealthy people who are the most highlighted. Sure, those with regular-sized bank accounts can attend, enjoy themselves, and deck out in their best wide brimmed hats, but the rich do the Kentucky Derby much differently than the masses.
Here are 10 things that wealthy people at the Kentucky Derby like to splurge on.
1. Private Suites
The private suites that you can buy at the Kentucky Derby are the epitome of southern hospitality: cozy atmospheres, friendly attendants, well appointed furniture, and plenty of great eats at the ready. You’ll have to fork over tens of thousands of dollars to enjoy one, but many say these are the best seats in Churchill Downs to watch the races.
2. All-Inclusive Dining
If you’ve got the cash, you can buy an all inclusive dining experience at the Derby. The Skye Terrace and Millionaires Row dining rooms at Churchill Downs can be reserved for up to eight people and include access to wagering machines, private restrooms, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, and a buffet prepared by a gourmet chef. The price? $27,200 per table and up.
3. $1,000 Mint Juleps
The mint julep — a quintessential southern drink made with Bourbon, sugar, and mint leaves — is an integral part of the Derby experience for attendees in all tax brackets. However, those with plenty of disposable income can get a sip of the ultimate julep from Churchill Downs. The venue makes 50 special edition mint juleps that cost a pretty penny: $1,000 each. It comes with a collectible gold plated mug, premium ingredients sourced from exotic locales, and a sterling silver straw. You can’t even order one of these when you get to the races — because the demand is so high and such a small number of these special mint juleps are served each year, wealthy patrons reserve their drinks online well before the event.
4. Luxe Derby Experiences
“Derby Experiences”, as Churchill Downs calls them, are super expensive ticket packages that the wealthy can buy to party harder than the rest of us. From exclusive catering to perfect views of the races and premium seating, everything about these tickets is upscale and over the top. Celebrities often purchase Derby Experience packages, especially the club party packages. If you purchase one of these packages and want some extras, such as your own DJ, a special assortment of towels, or bottles of the finest wine, you can have it all by just asking — and paying.
5. Club Access
Normal people who go to the Kentucky Derby often find themselves perched in a seat outside clamoring to get a view of the action. Those with the money to get premium seating in one of the Churchill Downs luxury clubs don’t have to worry about missing a thing. The Trackside Luxury Club is a premium package that has loads of benefits. If you have $2,750 to spend, you’ll get to watch the races from a comfortable indoor seat right next to a gorgeous 3 tier balcony. Club tickets include souvenir programs, a private area with your own attendants and bartenders, televisions, and self service betting machines. All inclusive catering and access to an open bar with premium liquor is also included.
6. Pricey Hotels
Since many people travel to see the Kentucky Derby, hotels in the area get booked very quickly. Some of the first to go are the VIP packages from the event’s host hotel, Galt House. Those with money — and lots of it — often take advantage of the hotel’s exclusive Derby packages that include high class extras and deluxe amenities such as gorgeous vases of fresh roses in-suite, invitations to a welcome party, and a stay in the hotel’s best rooms. Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars per person to snag a Galt House Kentucky Derby package. Another expensive boutique hotel that the rich often head to for the Derby is 21c Museum Hotel, which is also a contemporary art museum.
7. Premium Rail Cars
For the ultimate old-time feeling of nostalgia when you do the Derby, catch a ride to the event in a Pullman rail car. If you’re rich, go for an all-inclusive railway experience that includes
nightly cocktails, luxurious bedding and sleeping accommodations, and fabulous service. Wealthy people who choose this option fork over thousands of dollars per ticket to reserve a spot, and spaces go very quickly months before Derby time. Round trip transportation is included with each reservation which makes the ticket prices a bit more understandable, but still nowhere near affordable for anyone who isn’t rich.
8. A Seat in The Mansion
Everyone knows about the famous Millionaires Row, but those who have the money to take it a step above that and really do the Derby in style opt for a seat in The Mansion. Even the furniture in this suite is top of the line and super expensive. Access to the ultra luxe Mansion is typically by invite only and limited to 300 persons. Tickets cost about $10,000 each and include a personal concierge, five star cuisine made by a celebrity chef, and exclusive guided tours of the track at Churchill Downs.
9. Expensive Hats
Fun, showy hats are a staple at the Kentucky Derby, and ladies who want the best of the best can saunter over to the Museum Hotel’s trunk show. On display will be an array of one of a kind hats and headpieces from famous designers. Gentlemen can get in on the action too, as the trunk show also has men’s hats and sport coats. As if spending thousands of dollars on one hat isn’t enough, if you’re rich and want to get really fancy, go to the Brown Hotel where you can get a custom made hat that perfectly complements your Derby attire.
10. Top Restaurants
The food at the Kentucky Derby is mostly comprised of expertly made southern fare, but celebrities and the wealthy often head to expensive hot spots to nosh after the races. One restaurant, Proof on Main, serves exquisite locally sourced plates of food that are presented like works of art. You’ll pay quite a bit of money to enjoy a meal at Proof on Main, as eating at this restaurant is anything but inexpensive.