Throw a Virtual Kentucky Derby Party

By Kimberly Shane

The Kentucky Derby. It is the fastest two minutes in sports and an event that is steeped in tradition. For those who were raised in Kentucky, this event often marked the start of Spring—always being held the first Saturday in May. As with many celebrations this year the Derby has been postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. So, while the official running of the 146th Kentucky Derby will be happening September 5, 2020, we do not have to put off having a Derby Party until then as long as the Kentucky Derby Party is a virtual one.

There are some key factors to throwing a virtual Kentucky Derby Party. First, a horse race. Second, there need to be guests. Third, it must feel festive. From my years of planning many a Kentucky Derby Party, I will share my tips on how to successfully host one—even virtually. But before we get into the details; you will want to determine the means by which you will host your party. There are many great web meeting tools out there from Zoom to Facebook Messenger Video Chat to Google Hangouts; just determine the one you plan to use so your guests can easily connect to you.

The Horse Race

It is true the running of the 146th Kentucky Derby isn’t until September but there are an incredible number of recorded Derbies from the past on YouTube like this one linked here, Kentucky Derby 2017- 143rd Kentucky Derby. Plan to show a past race using a screen share option. Side note: I had a difficult time with Facebook Messenger in doing this and ended up just flipping my camera to view the monitor showing the race. You will want to make sure that you have access to the list of the horses who ran in the Derby you choose to show, so you can maintain the tradition of drawing horses for your guests to cheer on towards the finish line.

I have provided a printable list of horses and jockeys from the 2017 Kentucky Derby in our free Virtual Derby Party Kit, that you can download here. After printing it, simply cut out each horse and draw at the start of the party so each guest knows who they will be cheering for. If you wanted to make wagers, you could do that at this point! There are some creative wagering games on the Kentucky Derby website.

Your Guests

A party is not a party without the people! And even though we are not gathering, you can still set a festive tone by sending out invitations. We have created festive Derby Party invitations that you can download, edit, and send out to your friends and family that are included in our free downloadable Virtual Derby Party Kit.

The Party

Encourage your guests to participate in the festivities beyond watching the horse race. Plan to start your party an hour or so before “race time” to enjoy a mint julep together. A recipe card for this iconic drink is included in the Virtual Derby Party Kit. Plus you do not have to worry about anyone needing a ride home after mint juleps because they will not have to drive home when the party is over.

Additionally, you should ask your guests to dress the part. If your crew needs a bit of encouragement to do so, consider having a competition for best derby outfit or best derby hat! At this point we might all need a reason to get out of our sweats and into some nicer clothes.


You should be all set to host your own Virtual Derby Party, just click here to download your free Derby party kit to get started. Do not forget to add your own touches to this party—think of games that you like to play (Derby themed charades, anyone?), ask your guests to share their favorite Derby memory, or join in singing “My Old Kentucky Home”. Trust me, everyone could use a little fun and experience something out of the ordinary right now, so what are you waiting for?

Tags: Home, Kentucky Derby, Entertaining