Anne M. Eberhardt

Derby Ticketing Policy Changed, Fee Added

Even those that don't get tickets will pay an administrative fee to Churchill.

Churchill Downs said it has made it easier for fans to get seats for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Kentucky Oaks (both gr. I) programs, but it also will charge what it calls an “administrative fee” even if applicants don’t get seats.

The policy, reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal and commented upon via various social media outlets, provides up to 20,000 seats on a first-come, first-served basis. Those seats cost $196-$1,076 for a two-day package, Churchill officials told the newspaper.

Another 54,000 seats are sold to owners of personal seat licenses, horsemen, and VIPs.

Previously, fans had to submit letters requesting tickets. A committee decided who got tickets, the Courier-Journal reported.

Under the new system, fans can sign up online at On Nov. 7 they will receive an email including a seating-preference request form, and can agree to pay 20% more for tickets to go to the head of the line.

All applicants must pay $100 via credit card. Of that amount, $50 goes toward the tickets and $50 toward the administrative fee.

Complaints, however, already have been registered over the policy to refund only $50 to those who don’t get tickets. In one email to The Blood-Horse, a reader noted Churchill could make hundreds of thousands of dollars from those who don't get tickets.