The Best Events in Philadelphia, South Jersey and New York City in which to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby if You’re Not on a Horse and Not in Kentucky, but Love Mint Juleps and Hats

kentucky derby

Nicknamed “the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” the annual Kentucky Derby is horse play’s grandest moment in the sun, a championship pony race held in Louisville, Kentucky, nearly always on the first Saturday in May (capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival) to the cheers and cries of a fashion-forward crowd. Held at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby’s 149th iteration happens this season on Saturday, May 6, and the fine horses in the big race are Hit Show (30-1), Verifying (15-1), Two Phil’s (12-1), Confidence Game (20-1), Tapit Trice (5-1), Kingsbarns (12-1), Reincarnate (50-1), Mage (15-1), Skinner (20-1), Practical Move (10-1), Disarm (30-1), Jace’s Road (50-1), Sun Thunder (50-1), Angel of Empire (8-1), Forte (3-1), Raise Cain (50-1), Derma Sotogake (JPN) (10-1), Rocket Can (30-1), Lord Miles (30-1), Continuar (JPN) (50-1, Cyclone Mischief (30-1), Mandarin Hero (JPN) (20-1) and King Russell (50-1).

For those of you who can’t get anywhere near Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Philly, South Jersey and New York City area keeps you up on the Run for the Roses.

The Twisted Tail Kentucky Derby Party on Headhouse Square, Philadelphia

Off-South Street’s Southern-accented Twisted Tail restaurant, bar and live blues juke joint opens its (in) doors onto Headhouse Square Plaza (outside) from 11 am to 7pm for Derby Day with everything from a day-long live blues lineup, a Maker’s Mark Mint Julep Tent, an indoor menu of Fish n’ Chips, Mushy Peas and Fried Pickles, and an outdoor menu of BBQ Glazed Meatballs and Kobe Beef Hot Dogs with bacon jam. Plus, along with lawn games, there are best dressed contests for Best Ladies Hat and Most Dapper Gent. Plus, the Twisted Tail event features race coverage and the King Charles’ coronation ceremony. Attendees can submit for a raffle for the winning horse draw with a chance to win various prizes, too.

The Twisted Tail, 509 S. Second Street, {across from Headhouse Shambles}, Philadelphia, PA

Kentucky Derby Party 2023 at CHYAA Complex in Cherry Hill, NJ

Pulled Pork with Bourbon BBQ Sauce and Spicy Pickles, Fried Green Tomatoes with Creole Sauce and live music are the tasty highlights of the BFSC’s second annual Kentucky Derby Party. Fabulous hats and bow ties are encouraged as the Cherry Hill pool club gets transformed into Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Party 2023, CHYAA Complex, 150 Deland Avenue, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

Kentucky Derby Party: Run for the Roses at the Refinery Rooftop, New York City

A swanky butler-ed affair with passed Hors D’oeuvres, quiet live entertainment and a contest for Best Dressed New Yorker-turned-Kentuckian sounds tasteful. An open bar, however, should keep things loud.

Refinery Rooftop, 63 West 38th Street, New York City, NY

The Kentucky Derby live at Harrah’s Casino Racetrack in Chester, PA

The Philadelphia/Delaware County area Harrah’s is renowned for its epic party day coverage of the Kentucky Derby. Along with being able to view the horse competition on a gi-hugic trackside screen, there will be a Derby hat contest and a cheesesteak eating contest courtesy Philly Tap & Tavern, which doesn’t sound particularly Kentuckian, but…

Harrah’s Casino, 777 Harrah’s Blvd, Chester, PA

A Big Hat Brunch at El Camino Real in Northern Liberties

The post-Fishtown area’s El Camino restaurant and bar will host a Big Hat Brunch – wear a big hat, get a free mimosa – serve up mint juleps (including a pineapple mint julep in a pineapple), Nashville hot chicken biscuit sandwiches and pimento cheese-stuffed burgers. Heavy duty menu, that.

El Camino Real, 1040 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

Watching the race and the Derby Day After Party at Harry’s Bar & Grille, Cape May, NJ

New Jersey’s beachy coastal town of Cape May at its Harry’s Bar & Grille is a great place to view the Kentucky Derby for the Kentucky hot browns and blackberry mint julep margaritas. Better still, the Derby Day after-party is an even better place to wind up as the sun goes down.

Harry’s Bar & Grille, 1025 Beach Avenue, Cape May, NJ

The Derby at Sports & Social at Live! Casino and Hotel

The Sports & Social team partners with Woodford Reserve to host a Kentucky Derby watch party, with massive 4K wall-size screens, Mint Juleps and Kentucky Mules. The first 100 guests to the S&S will receive a complimentary Woodford Reserve copper mug for more Kentucky Mules.

Sports & Social at Live! Casino and Hotel, 900 Packer Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Derby Day at Joey Chops in Malvern, PA

For its first ever Kentucky Derby party, the still new-painting-smelling Joey Chops steakhouse unveils its patio and goes horse happy hour wild with Old Forester Mint Juleps.

Joey Chops, 245 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern, PA

Pony Up at Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA

Parx Casino is hosting an entire day and night of varied fare family fun including a watch party at Picnic Grove, pony rides and moon bounces for kids, live music from Vinyl Countdown, and to go with its race track and casino ops, advance wagering on the Derby will be available starting Friday, May 5 for the adults.

Parx Casino, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem, PA

Rosalie Wayne’s Second Annual Derby Day Celebration in Wayne, PA

Rosalie Wayne’s second annual Derby Day Celebration hosts its watch party from 5 to 7 p.m. On top of that, for $100 per person gets you two signature Makers Mark cocktails, small bites, a few rounds of Derby Day Bingo, some best-dressed contest for best hat, best-dressed couple, and the ever-loving interactive photo wall – surely a horse with some winning wreaths. Count on it.

Rosalie Wayne, 139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, PA

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and WPPM.org.

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