1. Things to Do

Racetracks offer Kentucky Derby fun Saturday

Even people who aren't horse-racing fans know about the Kentucky Derby. Some may dream of watching from the Churchill Downs grandstands — mint julep in hand, dressed to the nines, floppy hat tilted just so.

If you don't have a ticket to Churchill Downs, you can still dress up, wear that special hat and watch the Run for the Roses from a real racetrack on Saturday. Just head over to Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar or Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.

Both tracks will simulcast the 139th Kentucky Derby, a fun alternative to watching the race at home. Just bring a few bucks to pay for admission, food, drink, and maybe a wager on your own Kentucky Derby favorite.

Tampa Bay Downs is billed as the only thoroughbred horse-racing track on the west coast of Florida and one of America's oldest.

"We'll have live racing prior to the Derby and then simulcast the Kentucky Derby on Saturday," said Margo Flynn, vice president of marketing for Tampa Bay Downs. "We'll also sell mint juleps in souvenir glasses the day of the race."

Pay the regular admission cost of $2 for grandstand seats or $3 for the clubhouse and entrance to live racing, and the Derby simulcast is yours. There is no extra charge to watch the Derby. Parking is free.

Television monitors throughout the track will be tuned to the race. Watch for fun or place a bet on your favorite horse. For those who have spent time at Tampa Bay Downs before, some horses at the Derby might even be familiar.

"Our first three top finishers in the Tampa Bay Derby were heading posts within the Kentucky Derby," said Flynn. "And they're two of the top four choices in the race."

The Derby Lane greyhound racing track in St. Petersburg also plans Derby festivities Saturday. Derby Lane is the oldest greyhound racing track in the country and not only offers the simulcast, but advance wagering beginning Friday.

"Gates open at 10 a.m.," said Fran Williamson, marketing director for Derby Lane. "On the day of the Derby, we have a matinee before the Derby, and after the Kentucky Derby we run again in the evening. Simulcasts are going on a regular basis, but when it comes down to the Derby, all TVs in-house go to the Kentucky Derby. The sound goes out through the facility."

Want to watch at home, but interested in wagering on a favorite horse? No problem. Stop in and make a wager at Derby Lane on Friday or Saturday. There are three ways to bet on the race: live mutuel clerks, walk-abouts who carry the tote machines to patrons, and self-activating machines for a self-service type of wagering. Just be sure to state that the wager is on the Kentucky Derby.

"A lot of people come, place a wager, then go home, but a lot come to stay," Williamson said. "We served more than 6,000 people last year on the day of the Kentucky Derby. It's an exciting day for all of us."