Kentucky Derby: Here's where to watch and party

Posted at 5:00 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 07:50:19-04

Big hats, mint juleps and, of course, horses. The Kentucky Derby will combine all three, and there are many local parties planned in honor of the greatest two minutes in sports. Here are all the places to watch and have a good time, and remember: Post time is 6:24 p.m. Saturday.

Dark Horse Derby Party

Enjoy a fun party for a good cause the night before the horses run at Churchill Downs. The Junior League of Cincinnati is hosting a benefit at the Transept in Over-the-Rhine on Friday. It will be an evening of cocktails and dancing with the group's modern take on the traditional Derby party. Self Diploma will provide the music, and there also will be food and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit GrinUp! and RefugeeConnect. 

7-11 p.m. Friday. The Transept, 1205 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. Ticket prices vary. For more information visit the event page on Facebook.

Washington Park Derby Party

Come watch the Kentucky Derby from Over-the-Rhine's own "infield" this Saturday. Vendors will be selling mint juleps, craft beer from Rhinegeist, MadTree, Taft’s Ale House and Christian Moerlein. You'll be able to watch the race on the park's giant LED board, and when the horses aren't running, play giant Jenga and cornhole. After the race, there will be live music by Radio Tokyo.

4-10 p.m. Saturday. Washington Park, Over-the-Rhine. For more details visit the event page on Facebook.

Famous Neon's Unplugged

Gentlemen, dress to impress. Ladies, wear your most fabulous hat to the Famous Neon's Unplugged on Derby Day. Kentucky bourbon maker Woodford Reserve is sponsoring the Over-the-Rhine bar's third annual Derby Day Soiree. There will be Woodford Reserve Juleps, Old Forester Juleps and Julep-Ritas served in commemorative Kentucky Derby glasses for you to take home. You also can win fantastic prizes for those suits and hats before watching the Derby on Neon's big screen.

3-7 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Famous Neon's Unplugged, 208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. For more detailsvisit the event page on Facebook.

Japp's Since 1879

It is pretty well known that Japp's owner Molly Wellmann is a big fan of Kentucky bourbon. (She also owns Neon's.) So, it should be no surprise that Japp's, which is famous for its cocktails, will serve a plethora of Maker's Mark-based mint juleps for the Kentucky Derby. The bar's radio will be turned on for the "greatest two minutes in sports," and complimentary light bites inspired by Kentucky cuisine will be served.

4-7 p.m. Saturday. Japp's Since 1879, 1136 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. For more details visit the event page on Facebook.   

Braxton Brewing Co.

Braxton loves its Kentucky tradition. The Covington brewery will show the race on an 8-by-12-foot HD projector, and it also will tap its mint julep-inspired beer, Kentucky Home. For Derby day, it will be served with a mint garnish and sold in a commemorative Derby glass you get to keep. Buttercup Cake House will offer Derby-themed sweets starting at 2:30 p.m.

Noon Saturday. Braxton Brewing Co., 27 W. Seventh St., Covington. For more details, visit the event page on Facebook.

Parkers Blue Ash Tavern

Parkers will host its third annual Kentucky Derby Party in the restaurant's taproom and patio Saturday. Snack on classic Derby dishes -- Kentucky Hot Browns, cucumber and watercress finger sandwiches, Kentucky Burgoo, Parkers Paddock Pie and warm pimento cheese -- and sip on $7 mint juleps. There will be raffles and drawings, and the restaurant will award prizes for free dinner and brunch in three categories: best women’s Derby hat, most original Derby outfit and most stylish man. Fifty percent of admission proceeds go to the Winton Woods Riding Center, which hosts the Hamilton County Special Olympics Equestrian Program.

3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday. Parkers Blue Ash Tavern, 4200 Cooper Road. $10 admission. For more information, visit

Turfway Park

The racetrack’s annual Derby party kicks off at noon Saturday. The Party in the Paddock will include drink specials, a Derby simulcast and Derby hat contests. There is also a buffet available at the track.

Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence. Free admission.

Belterra Park Gaming & Entertainment Center

Belterra is celebrating horse racing with several days of events, including a Derby celebration on Saturday. Bet on the Derby at outdoor windows starting at 8 a.m. and see live races at the track starting at 1:45 p.m. There will be a Derby hat contest at 4 p.m., and after the race hear live music at both the Grand Stand (7 p.m.) and Stadium Sports Bar & Grill (8 p.m.).  And if you win big and have the urge to spend, there also will be a beer garden with a cash bar, barbecue buffet and VIP wagering for $75.

All day Saturday. Belterra Park, 6301 Kellogg Road, Anderson Township.

Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati

Horseshoe will host a Derby watch party on Saturday inside its Rock Bar and Lounge. Crown Royal cocktails and Crown Royal shots will be $5 all day, and there will be three specialty drinks -- mint juleps, the Red Rose and the Cherry Bourbon Smash -- available for $7 each until 9 p.m. DJ Jessica the Ripper will turn up the music for the afterparty.

All day Saturday. Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, 1000 Broadway St., Downtown. Free admission.

CHCURC Fundraiser Derby Party

This Derby party is for a good cause. Money raised from the event at Laurel Court will benefit the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. There will be mint juleps, live music and derby fare with dinner by the bite inside the historic mansion. There also will be a silent auction, hat contest and split the pot.

Starts at 5 p.m. Saturday. Laurel Court, 5870 Belmont Ave, Cincinnati. $75 through May 3; $85 day of event. For more information visit the event page on Facebook.