Saddle up for fun at Kentucky Derby-watching events in Vegas

The Kentucky Derby has stretched a two-minute horse race into an afternoon-long party. If you can’t head to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 4, don’t despair. Throughout Sin City events will be held where you can place bets, don fancy hats and drink mint juleps. The 139th running of America’s race will begin at approximately 3 p.m. Here are some fun ways to celebrate if you’re in Las Vegas.

The SuperBook at LVH - Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

The SuperBook at the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Put money on a horse and take advantage of jumbo-sized HD screens in the city’s sports books. For those that offer betting on ponies, the Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest wagering days of the year. You’re sure to find a high-energy atmosphere as well as an array of seating options and other special promotions in the SuperBook at the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo and Cantor Race & Sports Book at the Palms. The sports books at Caesars Palace, MGM Grand and Bally’s are sure to be off and running as well.

Order a classic ice-cold mint julep – made with Maker’s Mark Bourbon and served tableside over crushed ice – for just $7 on May 3 – 4 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Harrah’s. At dinner it will make a great accompaniment with the restaurant’s succulent steaks as you show your spirit for the Kentucky Derby.

Head over to Rhumbar at The Mirage. This stylish cocktail lounge reminiscent of a cool Caribbean beach bar is hosting a viewing party on the patio. Along with horse racing-inspired drink specials, like $10 mint juleps, guests can mingle or just behold the stunning view of the Las Vegas Strip.

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby in style – and for a good cause – at Commonwealth, a pre-Prohibition era-inspired bar in downtown. Since Las Vegas’ Race for the Cure is being run early the same morning, ticket proceeds from this afternoon party that begins at 1 p.m. will be donated to the Southern Nevada affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Tickets costs $20 in advance or $25 at the door on May 4. You’ll receive a free drink coupon and a betting slip placed on a random horse upon entry (any winnings are to be collected across the street at the El Cortez). Guests are advised to wear their most fashionable hats and attire. In addition to music provided by the marching band from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, you’ll enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and specialty cocktails featuring Moët & Chandon Imperial BTG and Belvedere Lemon Tea as well as a Prescription Julep created with rye whiskey and Hennessy V.S.

Chicken and waffles at Heraea

Chicken and waffles in Heraea at the Palms

Cheer on your favorite horses during the Kentucky Oaks (held on May 3) and the Kentucky Derby in Heraea at the Palms. You can enjoy watching both of these great races from one of 30 TVs in this female-friendly restaurant and lounge. Make a wager at your table and indulge in Southern dishes and drinks. Among the featured entrées are the cornbread skillet ($12), a jalapeño cornbread pudding with sausage, peppers and two over easy eggs, and chicken and waffles ($15), which are vanilla and bacon waffles with chicken fritters and a bourbon-infused maple syrup. Opt to add bottomless Bloody Marys, champagne or mimosas to you meal for only $30. Glasses and pitchers of mint juleps will also be sold for $12 and $30, respectively.

Want to get an early start on the day when the first jewel of the Triple Crown occurs? Make tracks for the race and sports book at Jerry’s Nugget. It’s located at 1821 N. Las Vegas Blvd. Beginning at 10 a.m., guests can down complimentary donuts and coffee while picking up free racing forms. From noon to 4 p.m, devour hand-carved track sandwiches (either brisket or roasted turkey), a signature at the resort, for only $2 each. You can also lay a wager on the Kentucky Derby and receive bonus gifts. Anyone placing a $10 minimum bet will get a  2013 Kentucky Derby commemorative glass. Those making  a $25 minimum bet on the Derby Matchup Parlay Card will receive a Jerry’s Nugget logo polo shirt. And all ladies wagering at the window will be greeted with a rose in celebration of the Run for the Roses.

Take a Kentucky Derby handicapping seminar in the race book at the South Point on May 3 from 6 – 7 p.m. It will be lead by top handicappers Patrick McQuiggan, John Kelly and Toby Turrell and provide you with a preview of the competing horses and their racing histories. This event is free to public. Then on May 4, attend a grand viewing party in the South Point Ballroom that commences at 8 a.m. There will be on-site wagering stations, so guests who place a $20 bet will receive a complimentary food and drink ticket.

Sigma Derby at the D Las Vegas

Sigma Derby at The D Las Vegas

Go for a win – in many different ways – at The D Las Vegas in downtown. You can delight in the Kentucky Derby at the resort’s Longbar while sipping on $6 mint juleps and seeing the horses fly out of the starting gate on 15 flat-screen TVs. The fun-loving property is also launching a series of three gaming promotions for its patrons to participate in before and even after the big race.

1) A Sigma Derby tournament will be held on May 3 – 4, when fans of the coin-operated horse racing game can gather around the mechanical track to compete for a $10,000 prize pool. With a $50 buy-in, players receive 40 quarters to wager over 10 races. Registration will be held at Vue Bar on May 2 from 4 – 8 p.m., with tournament play beginning at 10 a.m. on May 3 and ending on May 4 during a nail-biting final round.

2) A Kentucky Derby keno tournament will be held with another $10,000 prize pool. There is a $500 buy-in. Registration takes place at noon on May 2 at the front desk. Play starts on May 3 and runs through the weekend, with a finale to be held on May 5.

3) Through May 4, casino guests have a chance to enter the Pick the Winner Giveaway. Basically, The D Las Vegas will split $10,000 (payable in free play or tax-free play-until-you-lose promo chips) between bettors who wagered on the winner. Casino guests can win unlimited betting tickets at slots and table games throughout this week and bet on as many horses as they please. Tickets will be awarded for every 100 points earned in slots, every $300 buy-in made on the tables, every natural blackjack occurring on $25 bets, every winning $100 field bet on dice and every $100 wagered in keno.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.