When it’s time to “Run for the Roses,” The Brown Hotel is Louisville’s most glamorous spot for Derby Day gatherings, welcoming a nearly endless parade of celebrities and socialites reveling in the pomp and pageantry of Louisville’s most iconic event.

Often called the “most exciting two minutes in sports” for its approximate length, this beloved horse race dates back to May 17, 1875, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and grandnephew of the city’s founder, George Rogers Clark, spearheaded the first race.

Held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs just three miles from The Brown Hotel, this celebrated horse race caps the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival. It is the first race in the American Triple Crown and, unlike the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the Kentucky Derby has run consecutively every year since its inaugural run. Enthusiasts agree, in the world of sports, there may not be a more memorable moment than when the horses step onto the track and the University of Louisville Marching Band plays “My Old Kentucky Home.”

At The Brown Hotel, we delight in sharing these unique Derby Day traditions and terminology with our guests, including:

  • The “Mint Julep,” an ice-cold mix of bourbon, mint, and sugar, is the traditional drink of the race.
  • “Millionaire’s Row,” a reference to the box seats that attract the rich and famous. Over the years, the Kentucky Derby captured the imagination of celebrities around the world. This star-studded assemblage of fashionably dressed spectators adds a unique dimension to the race.
  • The Kentucky Derby is often referred to as the “Run for the Roses” because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the winner each year.

Your Key to the Kentucky Derby

Many Derby guests stay at The Brown Hotel year after year. Our exclusive three-night package for the 2025 Kentucky Derby is now available. To inquire about rates and availability or to book your stay for 2025, please contact Ariel Williams at 502-736-2989 or AWilliams@BrownHotel.com.

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The Brown Hotel’s world-famous Derby parties were elevated even higher in 2018, when the event fell on the same day as Cinco de Mayo. To celebrate both occasions a specially crafted cocktail was created, the Patrón Agave Julep. Featuring two ultra-premium liquors, Patrón en Lalique: Series 2 and Old Rip Van Winkle 25-year-old bourbon, this $1,500 cocktail made headlines. Even Dylan Dreyer, host of The Today Show, stopped by to report on our most deluxe drink yet.