Import, Travels
comments 2

That One Time We Snuck Onto Millionaires Row & I Won a Trifecta Bet

Continuing on with our southern road trips adventures…

If you’re new here you should know my family and I have a slight obsession with the Kentucky Derby as evidenced here.

If you’re not new, you know this well.

While on our trip, Churchill Downs held a Downs After Dark event that we couldn’t miss.  Let’s be honest, we’d be stopping at Churchill Downs no matter what but enjoying thoroughbred racing after sunset was something we couldn’t pass up.

Churchill Night Racing

Night racing only occurs a few times a year and we happened to be in town for one of those dates.  Coincidence?  I think not!

Downs After Dark

For dinner we indulged on brisket mac n’ cheese paninis and Churchill Downs traditional burgoo.  The panini was crazy-good!  Toasty bread with creamy mac n’ cheese and saucy, smoky brisket was a decadent dinner which I gladly split with my sister.

Brisket & Mac Panini

The burgoo was good…but if I’m being honest I prefer our yearly batch.  The recipe at the Downs was quite thick and reminded me of a more classic beef vegetable soup.  I’m really glad I tried it though so I could do a fair comparison.


It’s also not a trip to Churchill Downs without a julep.  Seriously.  I think they kick you out if you don’t get one.  I played it safe and did my duty.

Mint Julep

While the food was delicious, the two highlights of my evening were sneaking onto Millionaire’s Row and turning $2 into $129.

First off, our tickets were in a terrace section just underneath Millionaires Row.  THE Millionaires Row…where all the racing big shots and celebrities watch the Derby.  My sister and I were just itching to sneak a peek.  She has no shame and I tend to follow.  During a race we casually took the escalator upstairs, covered up our 2nd class terrace stickers, and walked onto the Row like we owned the place.  I don’t think anyone gave us a second look because we played the part well.

Millionaires Row

We ooo’ed and ahh’ed over the food and made our way outside.

Millionaires Row Buffet

I have to say it was pretty amazing standing in a spot where the elite of the elite watch the Derby every year.  We got our picture taken and then made a bee-line for the door!  We thought we were so sneaky and for five minutes, so exclusive.  Funny part is, once we got home I realized we could’ve sat in Millionaires Row that night for only $40 more.  So…maybe not as exclusive when it’s not Derby day.  Oh well…I was there!

Millionaires Row

As soon as we got back to our seats, race # 6 started.  It was a small field so I thought my odds would be better on a trifecta bet (guessing the first three horses correctly).  As much as I love horse racing, I bet on names…not much else.  Don’t do what I do.  Or, finish reading this story and then decide if YOU want to start placing bets on names.

I picked #1, #5, and #4 for the order and as the horses rounded the final corner, I realized 1 and 5 were in 1st and 2nd place but I couldn’t see #4.  Our whole group was making a bit of a scene screaming #4 on that our neighbors took notice and realized what was going on.  Third place was a photo finish and my heart was in my throat the whole time.  The minute #4 got added to the results, our whole section went crazy!  My $2 bet was turned into $129 all on going for the names I liked.

Trifecta Winnings

After collecting my winnings and basking in the trifecta glow, the guy next to us pointed out if I’d bet $20 I would’ve gone home with almost $1300.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Have a julep, skip the burgoo.
  2. Tell the photo guy you like less green railing, more racetrack in your snapshots.
  3. Bet on the horses’ names when you have a hunch.
  4. When it’s a strong hunch, put down $20.
  5. Take your winnings and upgrade to Millionaires Row…or just sneak in.
  6. Try on all the Derby hats before you go for Derby 2014!

Derby Hats

Filed under: Import, Travels


Writer of recipes. Storyteller with a food twist. Sarcasm/humor served on the side.


  1. My parents were big into dog racing when I was a kid (back when Geneva Lakes Kennel Club was open), so I grew up knowing what a quinela and trifecta were but pretty much always just bet $2 on one dog to show, or more accurately my parents placed bets for me until I turned 18…yes, I’m so old the gambling age was 18 back in 1996 🙂

    They now go to Dubuque for dog races and Gulfstream Park for horse races…the latter of which is only 10 minutes from my new home in Florida. I see horse races in our future when you visit me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.