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How to Celebrate Kentucky Derby Day in Saratoga Springs

Host your own racing-themed Derby party this May 1.

Celebrate the spirit of Louisville with Churchill Downs "Preferred Wine" Kendall-Jackson. This Trifecta Pack comes with three vinos from the brand's award-winning Estates collection.

It’s an exciting time to be a horse racing fan in the Spa City: Spring training recently opened on Saratoga Race Course’s Main Track, the Saratoga meet’s stakes schedule has been announced, and it’s looking promising that New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks will open to spectators, thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s increase in sports and entertainment venue capacity caps. Oh, and the Kentucky Derby, the crown jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, is just over a week away.

The Derby, which last year was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was run in September, is back to it’s regularly scheduled date—the first Saturday of May (i.e. May 1, 2021). It will also, unlike last year’s race, which featured eerily empty stands, have a limited number of fans in attendance. Derby Day tickets are still available, so if you want to splurge on a seat at Churchill Downs—and on a last-minute flight to Louisville—go for it. But even if you’re planning to stay in Saratoga for this year’s Run for the Roses, you can still make the most of it.

Though the Kentucky Derby itself is a full week away, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s virtual Derby Week festivities start Monday. Racing fans can tune into two Zoom events—one with jockey Diane Crump, the first female to race in the Kentucky Derby, and one a panel of racing experts analyzing the Derby field—as well as the Saratoga Museum’s new “Derby at Home” hub on its website. Speaking of the Derby field, you can check it out ahead of time here, and read more about the race’s favorite, Essential Quality, in Saratoga Living‘s ‘5 Thoroughbreds to Get Excited About in 2021.’

Post time for the Derby is 7:01pm on the 1st, and can be viewed on NBC. (Earlier coverage of the day’s races will be aired on NBCSN, and will switch over to NBC at 2:30pm.) But if you’re planning to make the most exciting two minutes in sports more than a two-minute affair, you’re going to want to plan your at-home viewing party ahead of time. For inspiration, check out our ‘10-Step Guide to Celebrating the Saratoga Summer in Your Own Backyard.’

Too lazy to put in all that effort? Let Saratoga Living do the work for you. Our DIY Kentucky Derby Kit is on the auction block now through Monday at 4pm and includes everything you need to get your backyard party started. The winner of the kit will receive the Derby Trifecta Pack by official Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs “Preferred Wine” Kendall-Jackson (the winery’s founder was a lifelong horse racing fan), which includes the 2019 Grand Reserve Chardonnay, 2018 Jackson Estate Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and 2019 Jackson Estate Outland Ridge Pinot Noir. All three bottles are part of the award-winning Estates collection, available exclusively at the brand’s winery and gardens in Sonoma. Worried you don’t have glasses special enough to serve this renowned vino? Your Derby party-in-a-box comes with four custom Derby 2021 wine glasses from Saratoga Custom Engraving. And your Run for the Roses soiree wouldn’t be complete without festive “Talk Derby to Me” party supplies from Tailgate and Party (which is reopening in its new Phila Street location next week). Finally, keep the hoopla going after the Derby by visiting the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame—your kit includes two admissions tickets, plus an impressive racing book collection to read as you not-so-patiently wait for the Saratoga season.

And with that, your Derby prep is complete. Now all that’s left to do is sit back, relax and wait for the call to post.

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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