Ten Things to Know Before You Go: Arkansas Derby

Events / Travel
Racing fans enjoy the infield a Oaklawn Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The final 100-point Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep of the year is just around the corner, and if you’re planning a trip to Oaklawn Park for Saturday's Arkansas Derby, we have ten things you need to know before you go!

1. The runners.

The field is still being set for the Arkansas Derby, but a few heavy hitters are definitely committed to the race. Equine stars like the undefeated Magnum Moon and fan favorite Solomini are planning to face off in Saturday’s big race.

2. The Arkansas Derby us just one part of an outstanding weekend of racing.

The Arkansas Derby is definitely the highlight of the weekend, but you’ll want to be at Oaklawn for all of its big races, including the Oaklawn Handicap on Saturday and the Apple Blossom on Friday.

3. Check out the infield while you’re at the track.

#OaklawnHorseRacing #OaklawnInfield

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If there’s one place to see while you’re at Oaklawn Park, it’s the infield. The area has something for everyone, with betting areas, craft beer and local food stands, outstanding views of the racing action, and even a petting zoo for kids! Plus, the entire infield is overflowing with flowering trees.

4. The Arkansas Derby is a great time to break out your best racing clothes.

The Arkansas Derby is definitely the most formal day on the Oaklawn calendar, so pack your best hat and your sharpest clothes to show off your racetrack style savvy!

5. Be a morning person.

#OaklawnRacing today. First post 1 p.m.

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Head to the track a little early one morning to watch the horses get their exercise and even ask questions of celebrity guests at Dawn at Oaklawn; and while you’re there, be sure to grab breakfast in the track kitchen. It’s now fully accessible to the public, and it’s worth a stop if you want to eat delicious southern cooking while rubbing elbows with horse racing’s biggest names like D. Wayne Lukas, who calls Oaklawn Park home.

6. Know the history.

The Arkansas Derby is a race with major credentials behind it: past winners include fan favorites Smarty Jones,  Afleet Alex, Curlin, and of course, 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

7. There’s a kangaroo in a bandana that you can make friends with.

I'm here for the horses, but I'll say hi to a kangaroo #arkansasderby #oaklawn

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Not much to add here. There’s literally a kangaroo named Rudy Roo Roo that you can make friends with in the infield. It’s a really, really good reason to go anywhere

8. Stop and smell the flowers.

Take a morning stroll through fields of daffodils, tulips, and other seasonal flowers at Garvan Gardens during Daffodil Days. What could be a more lovely way to celebrate spring?

9. Get crafty.

Love craft beer? Love darts? Then you need to get to the Craft Beer Cellar on Wednesday and Thursday night for their weekly tournament. There’s a huge selection of brews from the US and abroad, plus less conventional beverages like mead and cider to try.

10. Get raceday-ready in style.

Looking for a luxurious start to your Arkansas Derby morning? Grab bloodies and breakfast at the Arlington Hotel. Perched at the top of Central Avenue, the Arlington has been a favorite among the famous – and infamous – for well over 100 years. Fans of the landmark include President Franklin Roosevelt, Barbara Streisand, Babe Ruth, and Tony Bennett. Al Capone was such a fan that there’s even a suite named for him – and, according to Internet rumor, his ghost is still checked in. 

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