Churchill Downs releases full Derby-week itinerary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Churchill Downs has provided a full guide for guests heading out to the racetrack on Derby week.

The full itinerary was released showcasing multiple events leading up to the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

Events include Dawn at the Downs, Opening Night powered by LG&E, 502′sDay, Champions Day and Thurby presented by Old Forester, according to a release.

More details from Churchill Downs’ guide can be seen below:

Dawn at the Downs

What: Join us for the opportunity to see the Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders train for the big races while listening to expert commentary. Dawn at the Downs admission is free to the community!

When: April 27 – May 3. 7:00 a.m. EDT - 10:00 a.m. EDT

7:30-7:45 a.m. - Enjoy an exclusive training window only for Derby (yellow saddle towels) and Oaks (pink saddle towels) contenders.

Dining: Upgrade your Dawn at the Downs experience with a delicious buffet breakfast on Millionaires Row. Dawn at the Downs Dining may be purchased for April 30 and May 1 only and must be purchased in advance. Limited tickets may be available on the day of the event, but are not guaranteed.

Parking: FREE onsite parking is available for on a first come, first served basis.

  • Onsite parking lots will open at 6:00 a.m.
  • Paddock Gates will open at 7:00 a.m.
  • Each vehicle will receive a dashboard placard identifying it as a Dawn at the Downs guest
  • Every vehicle must be removed Churchill Downs by 10:30 a.m. each day

Opening Night Powered by LG&E

What: Kick-off Derby Week with the most stylish night in horse racing! See and be seen at Opening Night as you preview 2023 Kentucky Derby trends and enjoy an evening of heart-pounding racing.

When: Saturday, April 29

Gates open: 5:00 p.m. EDT

First race: 6:00 p.m. EDT

Event Highlights:

  • Rodes For Him & For Her Fashion Experience (8:30 p.m. – Kentucky Derby Red Carpet)
  • View Official Kentucky Derby art-inspired fashions by local designers – brought to you by KMAC (first floor – 5 – 10 p.m.)
  • Receive style tips from featured Kentucky Derby Milliners (first floor – Gates open to close)
  • Capture your Opening Night experience at our posh photo booth (first floor – Gates open to close)

Plaza Stage Entertainment: DJ Chris U

Stakes Races: The Roxelana Overnight Stakes

What to Wear: Don’t hold back! From fabulous to sublime, wear black and white with bold pops of color.


What: Kentucky Derby Week’s newest experience - 502′sDay celebrates the community, Louisville’s Kentucky Derby tradition-makers, inspiration-providers and fans.

When: Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Gates open: 11:30 a.m. EDT

First race: 12:45 p.m. EDT

Event Highlights:

  • $5 General Admission
  • Partnerships:
  • Special Recognition of UofL Health – J. David Richardson Trauma Center (3:20 p.m. – Woodford Reserve Winner’s Circle)
  • Special Recognition of the Louisville Metro Police Department (1:45 p.m. – Woodford Reserve Winner’s Circle)
  • Special Recognition of 2x Game Changers Planet Savers: Zoo Club & Future Healers (3:10 p.m. – Woodford Reserve Winner’s Circle)
  • Memorable Louisville Race Names: The Old Sears Building (Race 1), The Galleria (Race 2), The Brewery (Race 3), The Lynn’s Paradise Café (Race 4), The John E’s (Race 5), The Phoenix Hill Tavern (Race 6), The Dirt Bowl (Race 7), The Jim Porter’s Good Times Emporium (Race 8) and The Toy Tiger (Race 9).

Champions Day

What: Champions Day highlights the history of the Kentucky Derby and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Champions Day 2023 will celebrate Secretariat’s 50th Anniversary of winning not only the Kentucky Derby but the coveted Triple Crown!

When: Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Gates: 11:30 a.m. EDT

First race: 12:45 p.m. EDT

Event Highlights:

  • National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Traveling Secretariat Exhibition: A Tremendous Machine: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown (first floor – Gates open to close)
  • Kentucky Derby Museum Exhibit Secretariat: America’s Horse (Big Board – Gates open to close)
  • Secretariat bronze monument display (first floor – Gates open to close)

Stakes Races: The Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes and the Mamzelle.

What to Wear: Celebrate Secretariat with your favorite blue and white attire.

Thurby Presented by Old Forester

What: The 10th edition of Thurby presented by Old Forester is an unforgettable showcase of all things Kentucky. Thurby continues to celebrate Kentucky’s culture: bourbon, music and racing!

When: Thursday, May 4, 2023

Gates open: 11:00 a.m. EDT

First Race: 12:45 p.m. EDT

Event Highlights:

  • Stage performances curated by Kentucky cellist and singer-songwriter, Ben Sollee, featuring musicians Eli Ruth, Otis Junior, and Scott T. Smith (first floor – Gates open to close)
  • Old Forester cocktail demonstrations (first floor – Gates open to close)

Stakes Races: The St. Matthews Overnight Stakes, The Kentucky Juvenile, The Opening Verse

What to Wear: Whatever reflects your Kentucky spirit – from casual to Derby-inspired!

Churchill Downs said free parking for the events will be available at the Kentucky Exposition Center with shuttles running regularly for Opening Night through Thurby.

Dustin Vogt

Dustin Vogt

Dustin Vogt joined the digital team of WAVE News in September 2019.