Stages We All Go Through When Watching The Derby

The Kentucky Derby is said to be the most exciting two minutes in sports, but everyone who has been to the Derby (or just celebrated it from afar) knows that being a Derby enthusiast is a much more time-intensive endeavor than just those two minutes of magic. There are the adult beverages to prepare, the hats to bedazzle, and of course, the bets to place. There's quite a bit that goes into being a Kentucky Derby spectator and there are also distinct phases of spectatorship. For any Derby newbs out there, here are the 14 stages of watching the Kentucky Derby so you can prepare for your inaugural Derby-watching experience.

Don't you fret, though. Being a Derby spectator doesn't require much by way of sports knowledge. Unlike preparing for the Super Bowl or March Madness, you don't need to know anything to enjoy the Derby. I mean, you could put some time into researching jockeys and horses and making an educated bet. Or you could follow in the footsteps of my mother and bet on the horse with the cutest name and perhaps luck out after placing your bets on the adorably named Princess Integrity.

Either way, the Derby is the social drinking event of the season and as you prepare for the Derby, know that you will undoubtedly go through these phases of spectatorship as you partake in Derby Festivities.

Stage 1: Pretending You're Going to Learn About the Horses

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Whether you're a Derby regular or a newcomer to the Derby, you probably have told yourself, "No way am I going to be a bandwagon fan. I'm gonna do this right. I'm gonna research the jockeys and horses and be smart about my bets. I'm going to be the most educated Derby spectator there ever was." Let me just tell you now — this probably won't happen. You might give the data a precursory glance but you will rapidly realize that there are for more important concerns to worry about, like planning the cocktails and food for your Derby party and picking out the dopest hat imaginable. Which brings me to number two.... the Derby Hat.

Stage 2: Selecting Your Drinking Hat

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If you plan on celebrating the Derby, your first thought might be something like the following: "OMG I'm going to buy an epic hat." The Kentucky Derby is the one time of year where we get to channel our inner rich, old ladies and sport the most feathery, jewel encrusted abominations we can possibly get our hands on. As you embark on your hat quest, you will probably also have a reaction that is along the lines of "HOT DAMN, these ridiculous hats are expensive." And then you'll go to Target or Burlington Coat Factory and settle for the dopest hat you can find there.

Stage 3: Prepare Your Drinks

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I would be willing to bet that like 70% of people who watch (and attend) the Derby know basically nothing about horse racing. I would also be willing to bet that about 85% of all attendees and spectators are down to get turnt up throughout the course of the day. The Derby is a day of celebration and, as most days of celebration go, this means that there will be copious amounts of day drinking.

So if you're throwing a Derby party, you will need to carefully select your signature cocktails to serve at the party. You will probably be tempted to serve Mint Juleps and drink them with your pinkies up... that is, until you actually taste a Mint Julep. Then, you will quickly reevaluate your cocktail menu.

Stage 4: The Pregame Begins

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Since the actual race only lasts a few minutes, you have ample time before the race begins to get your drink on. Sip your delicious summery cocktails with your pinkies up as you pretend you are part of Millionaire's Row. It's the Derby and you're wearing your fabulous hat which instills in you a feeling of absolute royalty. Plus, I like to think that looking fancy counteracts any decidedly un-fancy drunk behavior, so live it up and suck down those cocktails like there's no tomorrow.

Stage 5: The Pre-race Festivities

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As with most sports events, the Kentucky Derby consists of hours and hours of pre-race programming with detailed analysis of different horses and jockeys, endless B roll footage, and torturous talking from the announcers. Some of this may be informative but the majority of it will just be straight-up boring. So my recommendation to you is to create a drinking game for the pre-Derby coverage.

Stage 6: Some More Drinking

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You've got a solid buzz on and the pre-race coverage is still soldiering on. At this point, your focus is more on your drink perpetually being full and owning your friends in drinking games than on horse statistics. This is where the Derby really starts to get fun.

Stage 7: Realizing You're Drunk and About to Miss the Race

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So your drinking games have gotten out of hand. Someone glances at the clock and you realize in a sudden panic that you're all about to miss the race you've spent all day getting amped up for.

Stage 8: Scramble to Get Everyone in Front of the TV Before the Race


You rush to organize your gaggle of drunk friends around the TV and you get there just in time for the race to start. Everyone is drunk and rowdy and the rambunctious crowd goes wild as the epic two minutes pass.

Stage 9: Feel Your Expectations Crumble as the "Most Exciting Two Minutes" Come and Go

If you've been drunk before, you know that time has a funny way of playing tricks on you when you've had a few too many. The best two minutes in the sports world have felt like the most inconsequential 10 seconds in any world to your drunken mind. You fist pump as the race starts, and the next thing you know, it's over. You feel slightly let down... but then your quick-to-forget drunk brain remembers that you need another drink and all of your feelings of disappointment subside as you go on to your next pursuit.

Stage 10: Feel a Brief Moment of Sadness When You Realize You Didn't Win Your Bets

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Suddenly, drunk you remembers the 20 bucks you put on Itsaknockout, the chillest horse name ever. You heart soars for a second as you pray that you won some money but then you realize that Itsaknockout definitely was not a knockout in this race. A white, hot rage boils in your belly... and then you realize that you're just hungry and go in search of pigs in a blanket as your bitter sadness at your loss falls by the wayside.

Stage 11: Stare Contemplatively into the Mirror in All Your Derby Finery and Realize that the Derby Isn't Really About Winning...

As you stumble through the party in search of some apps and 'zerts, you realize you need to pee. You step into the bathroom and squint at yourself through your glassy eyes. DAMN girl, you look good. You admire your posh hat, impeccable makeup, and fancy summer dress. You wink at yourself. So you lost your bet? No big deal. You are winning at everything else.

Stage 12: Realizing that the Derby Is More About Looking Fly and Getting Your Buzz On

All of you post-Derby disappointment melts away as you reinvest yourself into flaunting your fabulous self and securing more alcohol, perhaps even multiple cocktails at a time if you're feeling really aggressive. You quietly chuckle to yourself as you whisper, "This. This is what the Derby is all about."

Stage 13: Nap Time

Then the most glorious part of the day: your drunken nap. You curl up in your sundress with the brim of your glorious hat shading your face from the sun. You drift off into a mimosa-inspired field of dreams and all is right in the world.

Stage 14: Deal with the Hangover and Prepare For Next Year

You wake up from your drunken nap, hat feathers askew, your breath faintly reeking of sleep and minty Bourbon. You rub your eyes, smearing your makeup as you question your life decisions. Then you shake your head, reemerge into the depths of your Derby party, grab a vodka soda, and pat yourself on the back for a successful Derby day.

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