Kentucky Derby 2021: How to watch and how to bet

What time is the Derby? How do you bet on a race? What will the weather be like? We’re answering your Derby questions here.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 147th Kentucky Derby is coming up soon. This Louisville tradition usually brings in thousands of visitors to the Bluegrass state, but things are still looking different for 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

When is the 2021 Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday in May. In 2021, that day falls on May 1. While races will be held all day, the true Run for the Roses is set for 6:57 p.m.

Where is the Kentucky Derby held?

The race takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

How can I watch the Kentucky Derby?

If you aren’t going to the track, the Kentucky Derby race will be available to watch on your local NBC station.

Post positions

The post positions for the 2021 Derby were announced April 27. There are currently 20 3-year-old Thoroughbreds set to race on May 1. Essential Quality — trained by Louisville native Brad Cox — is the favorite, drawing the No. 14 position. You can see the full list here.

How do I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

You can bet on the race anytime online through the Twin Spires website. If you’re new to the betting game, you can check out the Betting 101 Guide from Churchill Downs or our Derby For Dummies series from 2019.

What will the weather be for Derby?

The last several years (excluding 2020) have not been kind weather-wise for the Kentucky Derby. Right now, the forecast for Saturday is looking like a winner.

We’re expecting clear skies and a high around 70 degrees. Heavy rain is expected in Louisville on Wednesday and Thursday, but it’ll be cleared out by Friday. See more here.

Who is singing the National Anthem?

Grammy-winning artist Tori Kelly will be singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Kelly is the eleventh major artist to perform ahead of the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Tips for going to the track

If you got tickets and are heading to Churchill Downs for Derby weekend, there are some rules you need to follow.

Due to the pandemic, masks will be required at the track. You can see Churchill’s COVID-19 policy here.

On Oaks or Derby Day, you can bring small boxed lunches and bottled water, but many items are prohibited including:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Backpacks, duffel bags and luggage 
  • Bags larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″
  • Cans (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
  • Drones
  • Pets, except for trained service animals
  • Selfie Sticks and tripods
  • Umbrellas of any size
  • Weapons

There’s a full list of prohibited items online.

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