Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

The Kentucky Derby brings out every type of gambler: from professional handicappers who wager on the ponies for a living to first-time horse bettors.

Then there are the Kentucky Derby partygoers who are only into the drinks, food, and dressing up. We advise getting the most out of your Kentucky Derby experience with a little bit of everything.

Even if you aren’t a big gambler, why not take advantage of the free welcome bonuses at the best Derby betting sites?  With fantastic Kentucky Derby promos available for the race, it is the perfect time to get involved in the ‘Fastest Two Minutes in Sports’.

In addition to wagering, the Run for the Roses provides an opportunity to gather with friends for a Kentucky Derby party. There are a variety of fun Kentucky Derby party games that every get-together should consider playing this year.

Whether you prefer Kentucky Derby squares, drinking games, or unique party ideas, there should be a game that appeals to everyone on our list.

Kentucky Derby Party Games

Kentucky Derby Party Games

Fortunately, there isn’t much horse racing strategy or knowledge required to play these Kentucky Derby party games. Being attentive, perhaps having some style, and getting lucky are prerequisites to having success.

However, we do recommended going over the latest Kentucky Derby odds at the best online horse betting sites to best prepare for the Kentucky Derby draft and auction games.

The Derby Hat Draw

The simplest Kentucky Derby party game to play is the Derby Hat Draw. Write down the names of all 20 horses on separate pieces of paper.

Put them into a hat and have each participant pull a name out of the hat. The name of the horse that is drawn is that person’s thoroughbred for the Kentucky Derby.

The only Derby Hat Draw strategy is to be luckier than your friends. Nothing less, nothing more.

Kentucky Derby Draft

The Kentucky Derby draft game requires more skill. There is always some luck involved, but the draft provides you with an opportunity to pick your own horse.

If you are familiar with fantasy football drafts, then this format will make plenty of sense. The number of people participating will determine how many horses are on each team.

For instance, ten players will mean two horses. If there are 20 people playing the game, then only one horse per team.

The draft order can be randomly selected before it begins. Unfortunately, 20 participants would mean one unlucky player has no choice.

The rules are flexible for this Kentucky Derby party game. You can keep it simple with a winner’s take-all or points format.

In a points format, the winning horse earns 20 points, second place gets 19 points, third place gets 18 points, and so on. This works better in smaller drafts with more horses on each team.

Kentucky Derby Auction

The Kentucky Derby auction is another party game where having a keen eye for the best horses is an asset. In an auction contest, each horse in the Derby is assigned a value based on their odds to win the race.

Participants in the game will start with an arbitrary amount of cash or points similar to a poker tournament. Let’s say each player begins with an imaginary $10,000 bankroll. They are free to spend how they wish on their stable without going over their budget.

Favorites for the race will be worth more. Forte, who is favored to win the 149th Kentucky Derby, will be the most expensive horse to purchase. The longest shot will be the cheapest.

For Example:

With a $10,000 bankroll, Forte might be given a value of $8,000. Despite having the favorite, this would prevent you from spreading out your money. Conversely, you could pick several longshots and have multiple horses in your Kentucky Derby stable to win.

The structure and values of the auction are up to your group or party hosts.

Winner and Last

For a little twist on picking the Kentucky Derby, why not play a game where you have to select the winner and last-place horse?

Along with picking a winner, players are also asked to select the horse that finishes last in the 149 Kentucky Derby. If no one predicts first and last correctly, then whoever was the closest wins the contest.

Tiebreakers can be determined by guessing how long the winner takes to complete the race.

My Old Kentucky Home Time

Since 1936, the University of Louisville Marching Band has performed My Old Kentucky Home before the running of the Kentucky Derby. It is a yearly Derby tradition as horses make their way to the starting gate at Churchill Downs.

For this Kentucky Derby game, the person that correctly predicts how long the rendition will take wins. Just make sure that someone has a stopwatch ready to record the time from beginning to end.

Kentucky Derby Outfit Contest

The outlandish and dapper Kentucky Derby outfits are as much of a story on the first Saturday of May as the actual race. This isn’t a day for conservative attire.

The loudest and craziest outfits are the status quo at Kentucky Derby parties. So, don’t be shy and embrace your creative side. An eccentric colorful hat for the women and a fedora for the men wouldn’t hurt.

To play this game, have attendees vote on their favorite outfit at the party. The voting process can be done before the race when everyone has arrived. For fairness, participants are not allowed to vote on their own outfit.

If you do not like this process, there could also be three judges for determining a winner. Ask three of your friends that aren’t playing to be the judges.

Following the Kentucky Derby, have the judges vote or reveal what the votes were from earlier in the day.

Horseshoes Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby Horseshoes

“Why didn’t I think of that?” This is probably what you are thinking if you haven’t played horseshoes at a Kentucky Derby party.

The classic lawn game of horseshoes should be considered at any Kentucky Derby party as long as you have the room for it. There are also mini horseshoe games that are indoor-friendly. You do not need real horseshoes and a metal stake to play the game.

Different variations of horseshoes exist. Players should take turns throwing their two horseshoes, one at a time for each inning or round.

A common rule is awarding three points for a shoe that lands around the stake and one point for shoes touching/leaning or within six inches of the stake. The first player to score 11 points wins the game.

Kentucky Derby Bingo

Kentucky Derby Bingo

Here’s a great option for those of you that love to play online bingo or at the bingo hall. The Kentucky Derby bingo game is for attendees who are going to be paying attention during the pre-race coverage on NBC. People at the party who are most attentive will do well in this Kentucky Derby party game.

Have the hosts of the party complete bingo cards with common Kentucky Derby phrases or words:

  • Bourbon
  • Mint Julep
  • Run for the Roses
  • My Old Kentucky Home
  • Bob Baffert
  • Millionaire’s Row
  • Grandstand
  • Preakness Stakes
  • Belmont Stakes
  • Triple Crown
  • Longshot
  • Pink hat
  • Rich Strike
  • Colt
  • Triple Crown
  • Fastest Two Minutes in Sports
  • Forte
  • Angel of Empire
  • Two Phil’s
  • Tapit Trice

These are only a handful of examples that you can use on your bingo cards. You are free to include whatever phrases or names that you would like.

The player who completes a BINGO on their card first wins the game. For players to be able to dab their bingo card, commentators must say the phrases during pre-race coverage or the race.

Kentucky Derby Drinking Game

Kentucky Derby 2023 Drinking Game

Bourbon and the Kentucky Derby go together like beer and football. The drink of choice at the Kentucky Derby has long been the Mint Julep.

While it isn’t a requirement, playing this drinking game with bourbon provides a true Derby experience. There are no winners or losers here. However, ensure that you are staying the night or have a DD if things get too messy.

  • Take a shot when Bob Baffert is mentioned during the broadcast
  • Take a shot if drug testing is discussed
  • Take a shot if American Pharoah is mentioned during the broadcast
  • Take a half shot when a pink hat is shown
  • Take two shots if Tom Brady is at the Kentucky Derby
  • Take a shot if any of the panel of experts or NBC hosts picks a longshot to win
  • Take a shot if any commentators mention the Mint Julep
  • Take a shot if the winning horse wins by less than one length
  • Take three shots if a horse with odds of 30/1 or greater wins the Kentucky Derby (according to the morning-line odds)

Shared Bet On The Kentucky Derby

Another cool way to add extra spice to the KY Derby would be to place shared. Just collect a small fee from everyone involved, like $5 or $10 bucks each, and decide on a horse you want to back. The odds are pretty high, even for the favorites, so if you win the wager, that could pay for your drinks or food!

If you decide to go that route, we recommend Bovada. The sportsbook has a bunch of markets on top of the winner odds, so you could even go for a prop bet.

Bovada Sportsbook
Ready to play at Bovada?

Kentucky Derby Betting Squares

Kentucky Derby 2023 Betting Squares

Super Bowl square pools are always one of the most popular games of choice at Super Bowl betting sites and parties. Why not do the same with a Kentucky Derby squares contest?

In Derby Squares, only the horse that wins and finishes second are considered for determining a winner. Barring any horses being scratched, there will be 20 runners in the Kentucky Derby.

On the X (win) and Y-axis (2nd) write 1 to 20. Each box represents the horse that is going to finish 1-2 in the Kentucky Derby. Since a horse can’t finish 1st and 2nd, cross out the squares where the same numbers intersect.

The rest of the numbers on the square card can be bought by anyone who wants to play. As an example, if the No. 6 horse finishes 1st and No. 18 places 2nd, then the square where these two numbers intersect wins.

Whoever bought this square wins the pool. The prize will be determined by how many participants buy squares and the fee for each square. To improve your odds of winning, simply buy more squares.

About the Author
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Kyle Eve
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Kyle Eve is a seasoned pro of The Sports Geek. Since joining the team in 2012, Kyle, has covered some of the biggest sporting events in the world. From the Super Bowl and World Series to March Madness, the NBA Finals, Kentucky Derby, and many more, Kyle has provided reliable analysis for millions of readers. After dedicating himself to hockey and football in high school, Kyle placed his first sports bet on his 18th birthday. Since then, he has spent his entire adult life devoting himself to becoming the best sports bettor and casino gambler possible. Kyle is from Windsor, ON, Canada

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