Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby: What can I bring? A list of prohibited items.

HorseSoloIf you’ve been to the Kentucky Derby before, then you know that there are always extra steps and precautions taken on both Derby day and Oaks day that you wouldn’t normally be subjected to during the rest of the season at Churchill Downs.  If you haven’t been then you don’t know, but I am here to guide you!

The first rule is:  Don’t be angry about being searched.  Look, I understand that a lot of people (especially those entering the infield) are ready to get their party on, but be aware that if you are carrying a bag, or if you are wearing clothes, you will most likely be searched by at least a magnetic wand (if you are not wearing clothes, you will most likely be denied admission).  Let these people do their job, as they are just looking out for the well being of the hundred thousand plus people that will be there.  This is why the gates open at 8:00 am on both Oaks and Derby day.  Get there early and allow time for security.

The second rule is:  Don’t bring items that you are not allowed to bring.  It seems simple, right?  Well every year you will undoubtedly be stuck behind someone that thinks it’s ok to bring in their own cooler of booze.  Then you will wait there while this person gets angry about losing the $400 worth of stuff they were trying to bring in.  Security personnel at the Kentucky Derby will make it a LOT easier on you if you are only bringing YOU through the gate.  Of course, not everyone can pack so lightly, so just pay attention to the list below because there are items that you are not allowed to bring in that you might be surprised about (like coolers and umbrellas).  Yes, it’s going to rain.  No, you can’t have an umbrella.  Anything that can be used as a weapon, will be considered a weapon.

The third rule is:  Keep Calm and Enjoy Yourself.  Part of enjoying yourself is allowing other people around you to enjoy themselves.  You are not the only one trying to have a good time so be courteous (this sometimes gets lost if you drink too much…stay the course, and be kind).  This is especially true in the infield.  See, the Louisville Metro Police Department is well aware that everyone in the infield of the Kentucky Derby thinks they can get away with murder, so they dress in FULL RIOT GEAR for the event.  Don’t even think about running into someone, elbowing / punching someone, or even looking at someone the wrong way.  If you do, you will be greeted (wrestled to the ground) by 15-20 officers of the law.

The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are two wonderful events and can be enjoyed if you do things right!  Below is a list of acceptable and unacceptable items.  Have a fun and safe Kentucky Derby!

These items are PROHIBITED at the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby this year:

  • COOLERS (Styrofoam coolers, ice available at infield purchase points)
  • CANS (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
  • POP UP OR PATRON TENTS – no poles or stakes of any kind
  • Laptop computers and camcorders
  • Cameras with detachable lenses, or equipped with a lens that is 6” or longer
  • Tripods
  • Purses larger than 12” in any dimension
  • Grills
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Illegal substances (leave the crack and anthrax at home)
  • Thermoses
  • Backpacks
  • Luggage (includes briefcases)
  • Duffel bags
  • Wagons
  • Umbrellas
  • Weapons (including knives)
  • Fireworks, noisemakers, air horns, laser lights/pointers, mace or pepper sprays
  • ANIMALS (with the exception of service animals for guests with disabilities)
  • Any items deemed dangerous and/or inappropriate. 

However, these items ARE ALLOWED for Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby:

  • Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” X 18” – no trash bags)*
  • “Box” lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18” X 18” – no trash bags)
  • Water and soft drinks – plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
  • Purses, but none larger than 12” in any dimension (subject to search)
  • Baby/diaper bags – only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
  • Small cameras – none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6” or more **
  • Binoculars
  • Sunscreen (non-glass containers only)
  • Small personal music systems, radios and televisions** (No boom boxes)
  • Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets**
  • Seat cushions smaller than 15×15 without metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets, or flaps.
  • Strollers (ONLY if carrying a child)
  • Chairs (Gate 3 ONLY)
  • Blankets & tarpaulins (Gates 1 & 3 ONLY)

* Limit of two bags per person ** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items

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