An unlimited number of tickets for the Derby infield are available to anyone who wants to get into Churchill Downs on the day of the Kentucky Derby. The infield has no seating.
Kentucky Derby Infield Admission:
Admission tickets to the Kentucky Derby Infield are only available on the Saturday of the Kentucky Derby. They cannot be purchased in advance. However, Churchill Downs does not limit the number of people that can be admitted to the infield on Derby day, so you don’t have to worry about tickets selling out. Admittance to the infield is available at any of the gates, though Derby officials recommend that visitors come in through gate three.
You could drive all the way to Churchill Downs and attempt to park in their parking lot or somewhere close, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Residents of the area around Churchill Downs will allow you to park in their yards or driveways, but there’s going to charge you a steep fee. The best way to get to and from Churchill Downs on the day of the Kentucky Derby is to park at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center where parking is free and take the shuttle to Churchill Downs. A round-trip shuttle ticket isn’t very expensive, and it keeps you from having to worry about parking.
What to Expect:
On average, 80,000 people spend their Derby Saturday partying in the infield. It’s crowded, the ground is the only sitting area, and nearly everyone is drinking. Unless you’re one of the first few hundred people to arrive in the infield, you’re not going to be able to get near the spots where you can watch the horses or the races. If it’s sunny or raining, there are not really many covered areas where you can get out of the elements. At least 50% of the attendees are going to be rowdy college students. The Kentucky Derby infield is, in essence, a party, and that’s primarily the reason people attend.