General admission tickets purchased in advance will still be $40 for the Derby and $25 for Oaks, however advance purchases are subject to a $1 convenience fee. By comparison, the convenience fee for reserved seating is $5.
The walk-up price for a general admission ticket to the Kentucky Derby on Derby Day, Saturday, May 5, will be $50, an increase of $10 from 2011. General admission tickets to the Kentucky Oaks purchased at any of the track’s gates on Friday, May 4, will be cost $30, an increase of $5 from last year. The increase in price for day-of-event walk-up purchases for general admission to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks is the first for either event since a $5 increase for both in 2001.
It is worth noting that the Preakness is slightly more expensive to attend on a general admission (infield) basis, with tickets selling for $50 before May 12 and $60 thereafter. Pimlico does not open the infield to general admission on Black-Eyed Susan Day.
General admission at the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks is "standing room only", allowing access only to the paddock area behind the stands, and the infield. Fans looking for a seat for the two days but don't wish to purchase from scalpers still have one option remaining at ths time. Churchill Downs offers the Infield Club seating option, which consists of a reserved seat in Section 124 and Section 125 (apron bleachers), access to the Infield Club, and a lunch buffet, for $570 plus service fees. The "club" is a restricted area in the infield adjacent to the tunnel, only open to ticketholders, with numerous tents with tables and chairs, bars, and restrooms. Metromix Louisville has a photo gallery of last year's Infield Club crowd so you can get an idea what to expect if you go with this ticketing option.
The 2012 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs will open under the lights with the “Opening Night” program that launches both the 39-day racing session including Kentucky Derby Week. The first “Opening Night” attracted 38,142 fans a year ago – a record night racing crowd and the largest attendance in track history for a racing session other than a Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks or a visit by the Breeders’ Cup. The $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial, a Grade 3 event that is the final major prep for the Kentucky Derby, is the featured racing attraction.
Three “Downs After Dark” night racing events are scheduled during the second half of the meet and, for the first time, all will be conducted on Saturday evenings and include stakes races among their highlights. The 2012 "Downs After Dark" dates include:
Saturday, June 2 – Three $100,000-added stakes races – the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap, the Aristides and the Winning Colors – are among the evening’s highlights;
Saturday, June 16 – The first nighttime running of the $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) tops a racing schedule that also includes three other major stakes races in the Fleur de Lis Handicap, the Matt Winn and the Regret. Stephen Foster night will be the greatest display of racing talent in the history of "Downs After Dark";
Saturday, June 30 – The return of "The White Party" and the $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes for 2-year-olds – an early prep for the 2013 Kentucky Derby – top the entertainment schedule for this ‘Downs After Dark’ celebration during the Spring Meet’s final weekend.