In late March the “madness” sets in for college basketball fans, and that is certainly true in Kentucky.  But the Bluegrass is also the horse capital of the world and the hub of Derby Nation fans.

“It (horse racing) is unlike other sports… Or, to put it in basketball terms, a 16 seed can beat the No. 1 seed,” says Kevin Woodward of Louisville, Ky., when explaining why he is a Derby fan. “For two minutes, from the infield to Millionaires Row, you see each person screaming for a horse.”

After all, the most exhilarating aspect of the sport is the emotional attachment. You don’t have to be a trainer, owner, jockey, or exercise rider to have a connection to a horse on the track.  If you have any equity in the race, whether you place a wager or simply follow the Derby trail, the moment the Derby horses break from the gate, chances are you’re on your feet and totally invested in the exhilarating outcome.  

The Derby Nation of fans continues to grow as more people experience the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.” The memories build and the traditions grow, and geographic boundaries have no meaning when it comes to the “fandemonium.”

Woodward says “My fondest memory is when I invited 12 friends I met in Australia to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.  A rainstorm and Smarty Jones victory later, they were all hooked, just like I am.”

Speaking of experience, the events surrounding the famous two-minute horse race are full of entertainment, cuisine, fashion, tradition and history. From the new appetizer of the Kentucky Derby, called Taste of Derby™, to the 54th Kentucky Derby Festival, there are more than enough avenues to explore!

“The entire Derby Festival makes our city come alive,” says Woodward. “The weather is beautiful and there is so much to do.”

These are the reasons Derby Nation fans plan the first weekend in May around a variety of festivities, culminating in the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby experience at Churchill Downs.

The time is now to think about your experience and help the Derby Nation grow. Whether you are going to “Stay Put” and throw a party at home, or you are a “Super Saver” and want to go to the Derby by purchasing general admission tickets, there is certainly a horse in the race for you and a Derby experience you can customize for your own nation of family and friends.

As you’re making plans for Kentucky Derby 136, be sure to register for Derby Nation and respond to these stories by letting us know why you’re a fan. Tell us about your fondest Derby memory and your favorite tradition surrounding the experience. Your story may be published next!