Watching the 2019 Kentucky Derby at Lake Tahoe |

Watching the 2019 Kentucky Derby at Lake Tahoe

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 4.
AP Photo/Gregory Payan | AP

Ponies, booze, gambling and funny clothing: the four fundamental pillars of the Kentucky Derby.

That may seem simplistic, or possibly even offensive to the purists who consider the repeated whipping of horses as beautiful an artform as hitting a changeup, but for the masses the race really does boil down to those four components.

Hell, the derby drinking marathon can be just as grueling as the stallions’ two-minute sprint — Hunter S. Thompson wrote “burnt out early or maybe just not much to burn in the first place” when describing the derby attendants on the day of the event.

In Tahoe we have the benefit (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of being three hours behind the folks at Churchill Downs, meaning we get to watch the race at 3:50 p.m., greatly improving the odds of actually remembering the race.

In preparing for race day, you’ll likely spend a fair amount of time on your outfit. After all, if you’re going to do it right you might have to do some shopping, unless you have a closet stocked with ridiculous hats and/or seersucker suits.

So in order to ease the burden of preparation (“Dead Flowers” would be our cliché song recommendation while you’re getting ready), we’ve gathered some information to help you make the most of Derby Day.

Where to watch

Shockingly few places around the lake are promoting derby celebrations.

An exception is Lake Tahoe AleWorX’s Stateline location. The venue, which is coming up on its one-year anniversary in Stateline, is hosting a “Derby Day Party.” AleWorX is serving up drink specials, including classic mint juleps, rosemary mint margs, $5 Modelo and Casa Noble/Four Roses shot skis, from 1 – 11 p.m. Of course, they’ll have a bunch of great beer on tap too.

There will be live music all afternoon followed by a silent disco in the evening.

If that fails to pique your interest, the sports book at any casino is a safe bet (pun intended). For the hard-core race watcher, Harveys in Stateline is a solid choice. Right around the corner from the sports book, which is operated by Caesars, is Straw Hat Sports Bar & Grille. They have plenty of TVs and affordable foods and drink.

Get information at

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will be serving up $5 mint juleps — the official drink of the derby — at the sports bar and center bar. An added bonus at Hard Rock: get a free official souvenir mint julep glass with a $20 Kentucky Derby bet at the William Hill Sports Book (disclaimer: limit one glass per customer while supplies last; offer valid on booked race and prop wagers). A bet on the derby also gets you a $5 free play at Hard Rock.

Get more information at

Lakeside Inn and Casino — known as the “locals’ casino” — also has a William Hill Sports Book offering a free official souvenir mint julep glass with a $20 Kentucky Derby bet (same disclaimer applies).

Get information at

The show

Derby coverage on NBC starts at 11:30 a.m. (all times are Pacific Time). The actual race — dubbed the “most exciting two minutes in sports” — is scheduled for 3:50 p.m.

The race features 20 horses determined by a series of races leading up to the Kentucky Derby, according to NBC Sports. Only 3-year-old thoroughbreds are eligible for the derby.

As of Wednesday, Game Winner was the favorite to win at 9-2 odds after former favorite Omaha Beach was scratched from the race lineup earlier in the week.

Gray Magician and Master Fencer are at the bottom of the list at 50-1 odds.

If you’re hoping to grab some action but wondering “What the hell does 50-1 mean?” the folks at CBS created this helpful explainer on gambling on horse races at Although as the piece notes, sometimes you’re better off remaining ignorant (we all know that person who fills out their March Madness bracket based on the team colors and crushes it).

Find information on the derby at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User