Churchill Downs Seat Location Guide
"Where would you prefer to sit when experiencing the 'Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports'?"
At Sports Travel & Tickets, our primary goal to make your Derby Weekend experience the best that you could ever imagine - a true "A-List of the Bucket List" style weekend!
With so many different areas spanning the Clubhouse to the Grandstand, hospitality amenities, privileges and options, deciding where you want to sit when you attend the Kentucky Derby can be a somewhat complicated dance of emotion and budget. Many fans and first time Kentucky Derby attendees have always assumed that it was impossible to attend the Kentucky Derby unless you were a celebrity, star athlete, millionaire or very well-connected.
Sports Travel & Tickets allows you to easily acquire the tickets, hospitality and hotel package that you need. Fortunately, the most difficult choice for you will be in deciding just where you prefer to sit! But sitting down to watch the action is only part of what those in the know will do at the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby this year. Churchill Downs on Derby weekend is all about mingling and making new friends as you walk around the Downs exploring new areas, celebrity spotting, having a cocktail, working your Daily Racing Form and definitely watching some horse flesh. So as you make your way to all parts of Churchill Downs, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Brief List of Seats Types and Descriptions
- Sections 111-112 - Chair back seats - No under cover seats
- Sections 113 - Chair back seats - Rows J & up are under cover
- Sections 114-117 - Chair back seats - Rows G & up are under cover
- Sections 118 & 119 Courtyard - Chair back seats - No under cover seats
- Sections 120 - Chair back seats - No under cover seats
- Sections 121-128 - Bleacher Seating - No under cover seats
- Sections 218-220 - Chair back seats. Section 218 all seats are covered while Rows C & up are under cover in section 220
- Sections 221-225 - Bleacher seats - Rows K & up are under cover
- Sections 226-228 - Stadium style seats with backs - Rows L & up are under cover
- Sections 312 - 325 - Chair back seats - Rows D & higher are under cover
Millionaire's Row / Skye Terrace
Millionaire's Row is synonymous with and is one of the most well-known terms associated with the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs. So let's talk about what Millionaire's Row really is and exactly what is the difference between it and the Skye Terrace? In 2004, a sweeping construction project took place at Churchill Downs. Prior to that year the term "Millionaire's Row" was simply a nickname ... a colorful part of the lore and legend at Churchill Downs. It was not even officially printed on the actual tickets or reflected on the seating charts. Prior to 2004, seats on 4th, 5th and 6th floors were simply called the Skye Terrace. After the remodel, however, Churchill Downs chose to officially name the new area "Millionaire's IV" (4th floor) and "Millionaire's VI" (6th floor). The sections of the 4th, 5th and 6th floors that were not newly designated as Millionaire's Row still remain the Skye Terrace and these do include sections Sections such as 412, 413, 514, 613, 614 and so forth. So basically Millionaire's Row and Skye Terrace do provide virtually the same view and very similar amenities today and are both located in close proximity to one another on the highest floors at Churchill Downs.
On Derby Day you might bump into Lindsey Vonn, Eddie Redmayne, Bo Derek, possibly a Kardashian or two, Michael Jordan or even former President Clinton. Seating is generally at eight-seat tables where you will enjoy waiter/waitress service, access to a full bar and you may order from the menu. To view the races, head out to the balcony area to watch the horses and you will feel as if the entire racecourse is spread at your feet. It is a very commanding view! When comparing the two areas between 4th, 5th and 6th floors, the main differences between Skye Terrace and Millionaire's Row are threefold. Millionaire's Row is relatively new and is much more modern thanks to the renovation. Millionaire's Row is also more like a large dining room, whereas Skye Terrace is a long narrow area with only two rows of tables. Lastly, Millionaire's Row is situated almost directly above of the Finish Line while the Skye Terrace is slightly past the Finish Line moving toward Turn One, but it really does also provide a phenomenal view.
While ticket prices are slightly higher for Millionaire's Row, both areas offer an unsurpassed atmosphere and the opportunity to enjoy Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day in grand style. As with most tables in the Premium Rooms and those along the windows on the higher floors at Churchill Downs, the best tables on Millionaire's Row are those closest to the glass. Tables in Row A are closest to the windows and to the outdoor balcony area where guests can mingle and view the races outdoors.
The Turf Club is on the Third Floor of the Clubhouse and is considered the one of the premier private member areas at Churchill Downs, with upscale dining, many celebrities and multiple bars. The Turf Club is a private “club” for members only, but of course if you have a ticket on Derby or Oaks day, you’re in! The Kentucky Derby has enjoyed a long and storied history of celebrity appeal throughout the years, and when celebrities come to the Derby, they are very likely to end up in the Turf Club.
In recent years, Churchill Downs Racetrack completed a roughly $18 million renovation to their premium member areas, including the Turf Club. This included extensive redesign to the Turf Club, Stakes Room and other private areas. The upgrades here include new indoor boxes, all new seating and and an upgraded decor.
The Turf Club is comprised of many tables, ranging from four to eight seat capacity and it is located on the 3rd Floor of the Clubhouse right above section 317 on the Finish Line. A lavish and luxurious buffet is always included with your ticket, however you will have to pay for your served for drinks. Celebrities from every country imaginable turn up in the Turf Club. We have seen stars ranging from Peyton Manning, Pamela Anderson, Richie Sambora, Kid Rock, Gene Simmons, George Straight all the way to Aaron Rodgers. There are also famous politicians, including many who have run for the Presidency. When you want to watch the action on the track or just experience all the sights at the Derby, simply roam anywhere you want at Churchill because your wristband grants you virtually unlimited access. The exclusive Turf Club Room is generally the most difficult ticket to acquire and therefore is also usually the highest priced option with our package upgrades. However, with that said you certainly get just about everything you could wish for when you are seated in the Turf Club on Derby Weekend!
In addition to finding a seat in the Turf Club for the weekend, A-List sports and entertainment stars also usually make an appearance the night before the Derby at the Barnstable Brown gala in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville. If you would also like to experience these colorful, celebrity driven Kentucky Derby experiences, simply give our team a call or complete our contact form to request more information! We can place you directly in the center of all the action and provide the Kentucky Derby Dream Experience you have always desired.
Matt Winn Dining Room
The Matt Winn Room is an exclusive dining area also located on the 3rd Floor of the Clubhouse, just behind the Interior Premium Boxes, and very close to the Turf Club. Our guests enjoy a beautiful gourmet buffet in the climate controlled setting with waiter/waitress service similar to that of the Turf Club. To view the races you’re free to roam all throughout the 3rd floor Clubhouse or you can go downstairs to the paddock as well. The Matt Winn Room is a very good bang for your buck, as prices for this area are almost always less expensive than for the Turf Club while they have virtually the same amenities.
Interior Premium Boxes
These 8 Seat boxes are tucked behind glass and slightly elevated up and behind the 3rd floor Clubhouse Finish Line area Boxes of Sections 315 & 316. Interior Premium Boxes are inside within a climate-controlled setting with wait-service at your seat so it is very comfortable and convenient. Many of our corporate clients appreciate this feature, as it allows them to put all charges on the same bill and pay for their clients and guests if they so choose. Flatscreen television monitors and betting screens are also right there in your box. These are different than the Turf Club or Matt Winn Room but also very prestigious. With comfort and ease you can view the races and action on the track through the glass windows directly from your seat.
Simply walk away from your box and you are already inside the Third Floor Clubhouse with access to all of the amenities and people watching that our guests enjoy so much. Interior Premium Boxes are relatively new at Churchill Downs and they are a very nice choice.
"Clubhouse? .... Grandstand? What’s the difference ...?"
Bleachers Seats vs. Stadium Seats vs. Folding Chairs
You will find three basic seat (chair) style choices at Churchill Downs if you are a seat outside. There is basic bleacher seating (raised, tiered rows of benches with no chair back) in the lower levels of the grandstand. There are stadium seats (rows of tip-up seats with a chair back) in the mid-range areas, and there are box seats (folding chairs) located in the Clubhouse areas and also in the 3rd Floor Grandstand.
Bleacher seats and stadium style seats are fairly straightforward and easy to understand. However when it comes to selecting a box seat, it can become just a bit more confusing. The boxes have six folding chairs within each box and they are positioned in two rows when you arrive for the day - three chairs in front and three chairs behind those. Many guests, however, will simply rearrange their chairs as the day progresses to make more room in the center of the box as in the example shown in this photo.
Boxes at Churchill Downs typically contain six folding chairs, with a few exceptions where boxes can contain as many as eight chairs. All boxes are relatively tightly spaced and there is not a great deal of room to move around inside the box. As a result, many guests will rearrange their chairs so that they are facing each other, allowing more room for socializing and to give everyone a bit more breathing room. While this is never an issue if your family and friends make up the full box, but if you are sharing the box with strangers because you only purchased two or four seats, it is always best to have a group discussion with everyone to assure that everyone is in agreement. If you arrived at the box late and others have taken the front row, they may not be inclined to give this up or start moving their chairs around. So always be courteous and polite and the day will go very well!
There are generally 19 boxes spanning your average clubhouse section. On the Third Floor Clubhouse, rows A, B, and C are not under cover. Many of our guests love these rows, as it affords you a fantastic view of the track and you are set slightly away from the crowds that line the aisle behind you. This main aisle runs the entire length of the Clubhouse between rows C and the elevated remainder of the section beginning with row D. This aisle is almost constantly packed with crowds walking back and forth and some guests prefer to sit several rows away from the aisle. It can be very social and some really prefer being close to the aisle. It comes down to personal preference. Additionally, those seated in rows A, B & C are out under the deep blue sky, the sun or the rain. Depending on the weather, this can be either fantastic or somewhat uncomfortable on hot or rainy days.
Clubhouse Sections at Churchill Downs include sections 312-321, 218 & 220 and 111-118.
If you have a Clubhouse ticket (and therefore a wristband) allowing you access to the Third Floor Clubhouse, then you automatically have access to the Second and First Floors of the Clubhouse and also the Grandstand if you want to visit someone or simply check out the view. Guests can always move "down" at Churchill. But you can not move "up" above your designated floor or area without the proper wristband.
Section 110 - A Unique Place
This stadium style seating area is deep into the First Turn and does offer cover from the elements. Hospitality is included with Section 110 tickets, which is a very nice amenity. Drinks and food are included in the price of your ticket. It must be said, however, that the view of the course and of the racing action throughout the day is less than ideal in Section 110. While it is a Section with great amenities, there are much better locations at Churchill Downs from which to see the action and watch the horses race. Even moving over just by one area to Section 111, the view is greatly improved.
First Floor Clubhouse
Seating in these sections, which run from 111 - 117, consist of folding chairs in six seat boxes. There are a few minor exceptions where there will be eight seat boxes in the higher rows of Sections 115 & 116. Here, you will find guests dressed in traditional Kentucky Derby fashion with all of the seersucker, silk dresses and the enormous hats that you have come to expect. This is a very fun and festive area of Churchill Downs.
Be aware that a majority of the seats are exposed to the elements, and you will not have a full view of the track because you are sitting low to the track. There are no bleachers in the Clubhouse, so there will be no one standing on their seats to block your view. There is a vey large screen that can be seen from these areas and you can watch the horses all the way around the track.
While the concessions and restrooms in the First Floor Clubhouse are a better experience than in the First Floor Grandstand, they are not as nice as one finds on the Third Floor and above. Just as it is in the Grandstand, the closer your section is to the finish line, the more you will pay for your seats. Seats on the rail in row A are prized as they afford a great view and there are moments when you can meet an escort horse and get some love!
Second Floor Clubhouse
There is a unique little section that we have available for our guests from time to time. Section 212 is unique in that it allows guests access to the Third Floor Clubhouse and it is under cover. Section 212 consists of just two rows, however if you sit here, you will definitely want row A. If you are are claustrophobic, you may want to avoid row B as the ceiling is low, the boxes are tight in this old section that feels as if it has not been updated since Babe Ruth attended the Derby!
Third Floor Clubhouse
Upscale environment without the Millionaire's Row price tag, the Third Floor Clubhouse is our recommendation as the sweet spot between the more basic Grandstand and Clubhouse's 4th, 5th and 6th floors of premium luxury. The Third Floor Clubhouse boxes afford a full view of the track and wonderful amenities. Seating is box style - folding chairs - and all seats above row C are under cover. Guests in the Third Floor Clubhouse definitely dress to impress. This premium area is by far the classiest section of all the seating areas below the Fourth Floor and there are many different hospitality options here.
We highly recommend the Paddock Balcony Inside Dining in the Third Floor Clubhouse. When our guests select to upgrade to this Hospitality area, their ticket affords them access to most areas of the Clubhouse (much better than a 3rd Floor "Walk Around" pass) and premium food and dining at a reserved table seat is also included. Paddock Balcony Inside Dining tables allow you to relax under cover of a lovely awning and look out over the Paddock where the horses, jockeys and trainers gather prior to each race. You can eat at your leisure at your own table, purchase a drink at your own private bar and place a wager at the windows inside this room that rarely have a line. There are flatscreen televisions broadcasting all track activity and when you decide you want to go out trackside to watch a race live, simply walk out to the box sections near the Finish Line and watch from the aisle. While you do not have a reserved box seat on the track, most of our guests prefer this seating arrangement which allows the best of both worlds!
The Third Floor certainly will have some celebrities and horse industry faces you might recognize. Many trainers and former jockeys are found in the hospitality rooms on the Third Floor also. There is generally a well-healed crowd in the third level and this becomes more true as you move closer to the finish line. Better values on the Third Floor are found a bit further down into Turn 1 moving away from the finish line in sections 312 thru 314. If you want an outside box seat on the Third Floor Clubhouse, section 312 is your best value. It will cost a bit more to move over to Section 313 and even more per ticket to move over to Section 314. Save some extra cash for gambling because there is not a big difference in the view from these three sections. They are all past the finish line going into the First Turn so if you select Section 312 you might save a bit.
This premium section was introduced in 2015, and it is located right in front of the owners’ suites. You will find many trainers, jockeys and their families and some of the overflow from the owner's suites sitting here. The section is considered Clubhouse, thus allowing you the privilege of walking up to the Third Floor Clubhouse. But the Courtyard is located on the ground level with the track and the view is not elevated so you will not see as much of the track as you would from the upper floors. Courtyard is split into two sections - Sections 118 and 119 and is divided by the Winner’s Circle and the Paddock walkway where horses, jockeys, trainers and owners walk from the Paddock to the track. The seats are rows of padded folding chairs on a grass lawn. There is no cover, so in the event of very hot sun or a rain shower, you may be heading inside often when not taking in a race from your seat.
The Courtyard section includes hospitality which will be food and alcoholic beverage. You will also have access to better restrooms and private betting windows. The Courtyard is also where the press photographers congregate. So, if you are fortunate enough to grab a spot on the rail to watch things between races, you be dealing with the press in front of you taking photographs and possibly causing you to miss yours.
The Grandstands consist of Sections 121 - 128, Sections 221 - 228 and Sections 322 - 328. If you have grandstand seats, it important to remember that you cannot move over to the clubhouse.
First & Second Floor Grandstand
Lower grandstand seating is located along the front stretch of the track running from the 4th turn down toward the finish line. Lower Grandstand sections offer bleacher-style seating on First & Second Floor Grandstand. There is an exception in the 2nd Floor in Sections 226 thru 228. The seats in these three sections are stadium style seats.
Generally, the closer your section is to the finish line, the more expensive your ticket will be. Tickets in these areas are more reasonably priced; however, there are a few things to keep in mind. When you are low to the track, many fans will stand on their bleacher seats, particularly leading up the the big Derby race in the very late afternoon because it is easier to see. Those guests who are not very tall will have a very difficult time seeing anything beyond the hat of the person in front of you. This can lead to frustration and it is an important fact of Derby life that you should take into account before deciding to sit in the First Floor Grandstand.
Another important thing to consider is that bleacher seats are simply not very comfortable. You will be at Churchill Downs all day and if you are going to build your Bucket List Dream Derby Experience, you may want to strongly consider your comfort. Remember that 8-9 hours in the Louisville sun or possibly rain showers while wearing a suit or a dress and hat can be more than some guests have bargained for. If a comfortable and stress-free Kentucky Derby experience is important to you, we strongly recommend upgrading your seat to Clubhouse or an interior Hospitality Table
Concessions, restrooms and wagering windows are found less frequently in the Grandstand areas and they are simply not as nice as in other seating locations such as in the Clubhouse or in the 3rd Floor Grandstand. The concession, restroom and betting lines can also become uncomfortably long.
Additionally, if you have always dreamed of a Derby experience filled with grace, class and high fashion you must be made aware that the First Floor Grandstand areas are simply a much more casual environment than in the Clubhouse. There will certainly be guests dressed very nicely in these areas, but it simply does not compare to the Clubhouse and other premium hospitality locations. Most clients select the grandstand due to the more reasonable prices, but if you have always dreamed of the classic Derby experience we strongly suggest that you consider upgrading to the Clubhouse or an indoor hospitality area such as the Winn Show Place Lounge.
But if you are looking for a value priced seat to experience the Kentucky Derby, the Grandstands can fit the bill. Additionally when you are on the First Floor, you can make your way to the rail and visit occasionally visit with the escort horses as the guide the thoroughbreds from the backside of the track into the gates before each race!
Third Floor Grandstand
This location is a good choice for those on a more modest budget but who also want a great view of the track, a little bit of cover from the elements, and a seat with a back
In the Third Floor Grandstand, guests are elevated high enough that you will be able to see the races without trouble. Additionally, only the first three rows are exposed (rows A, B & C), so you have covered seating options in these sections beginning in row D. There is no bleacher-style seating on the 3rd floor. Instead we have box seats with folding chairs in the box, which is more comfortable. This area is a bit more "on par" with Clubhouse in terms of fashion, however you will still find a mix of styles. Clubhouse is definitely the most fashionable area at Churchill Downs.
"Derby Seating Secrets .... and extras! Those little things that improve your fun."
Third Floor "Walk-Around" Tickets
3rd Floor Clubhouse General Admission tickets, also commonly known as “Walk-Around” tickets, are a great way of getting that extra person or two into your box on the Third Floor of the Clubhouse if you have a full box. They are actually tickets, which when entering the Clubhouse earn you a colorful wristband which you wear all day and identify you as a member of the Clubhouse for the day. Different tickets to the various areas of the Clubhouse earn you a different color and style of wristband. For those with access to many different areas and Hospitality Rooms on Derby or Oaks Day, it is not uncommon to be wearing 2, 3, 4 or even 5 different wristbands which can be a sign of ultimate status and access at Churchill Downs.
If you have 7 or 8 people in your group and you want a box for Derby Day or Oaks Day, simply purchase a “Walk-Around” ticket and allow that extra person or two to share your 6-person box. Not everyone in your group will always be in the box at the same time and its easy to move the chairs abound to accommodate one or two extra friends who want to visit for a while. Again, Sports Travel & Tickets has many types of “Walk-Arounds” for the Derby and Oaks Day races.
3rd Floor Clubhouse Hospitality Lounge - Our "Insider Tip"!
There are several small and wonderful hospitality areas located within the 3rd Floor Clubhouse that we have exclusive access to for our clients. These areas, located near the Matt Winn Dining Room and with some overlooking the Paddock from a reserved balcony, require a special wristband and Sports Travel & Tickets has access to a limited number of these wristbands for our clients. This wristband replaces a 3rd Floor Clubhouse "Walk-Around" and gives our clients a lot of extra "bang for your buck"! In the hospitality areas, our guests have a private reserved table, a full premium buffet served all day long, as well as waitress service for drinks, flat screen televisions broadcasting each race live and private betting windows located only steps from your table with no long lines. This is a wonderful area for our clients and certainly allows you to sit, eat and drink as you relax and get away from the maddening crowd outside on the track.
Churchill Downs has done a great job at keeping the Kentucky Derby an event that everyone can enjoy. From general admission tickets along the rail in the infield to VIP, celeb-spotting tables in the Turf Club, there are a lot of options to choose from.
If you have any questions regarding your Kentucky Derby tickets purchase or you're looking for tickets in a section we've not covered here, please do not hesitate to call us at 888-885-3132.
Sports Travel & Tickets is a company with over 35 years experience in Kentucky Derby seating, and we have the answers. If you don’t find out what you need to know here, simply pick up the phone and call one of our Derby specialists toll free at 888-885-3132 or contact us through our contact form.