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A guide to having a very Vegas Kentucky Derby

May 04, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The 138th Kentucky Derby will be run Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The 138th Kentucky Derby will be run Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville. (Garry Jones / Associated…)

From the sounds of it, Bodemeister and Union Rags will slug it out for a win at the 138th Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville. But you needn't go all the way to Kentucky to watch. Las Vegas is light on derby traditon but heavy on the mint juleps -- and the betting. Here are some picks for spending derby day in Las Vegas.  


If you haven't been following the horses all year, Vegas Chatter offers five simple tips ("We mostly play exactas!") to get you started. Wannabe winners can be in on the action by betting as little as $1 or $2. Post time will be about 3:30 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday.

For more tips, attend a free handicapping seminar before the big race at 5 p.m. today (Friday) at Lucky's Race & Sports Book inside the Riviera Hotel & Casino. Place a $20 wager and receive an official Kentucky Derby mint julep glass for free. Lucky's opens early for bets at 7 a.m. today and Saturday.


Many casinos as well as race and sports books will be having derby day goings-ons. The El Cortez Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street is hosting a viewing party in the Fiesta Room from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. You can watch pre-race festivities as well as the final showdown. Drinks cost $1 for Budweiser drafts and $2 Bloody Marys. And again, a $20 bet scores a souvenir Kentucky Derby glass.


After a day at the races, get a jump-start on the most important part of next year's derby: finding a fabulous hat. British hat designer Philip Treacy, who has created toppers for Lady Gaga, Madonna and other celebrities, will show his spring and summer collection from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bags Belts & Baubles inside Wynn. Treacy also will provide custom hat fittings. The event is free and open to the public.

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