The Kentucky Derby, with its unparalleled history and tradition, is a bucket-list sporting event. Every year, more than 150,000 spectators gather at Churchill Downs in extravagant hats and pastel suits to sip mint juleps, wager and watch the Run for the Roses, which has been called the "greatest two minutes in sports."
The Derby takes place the first Saturday of every May, but preparations for the iconic race start well before. As milliner Lisa Shaub told me, those who are really looking to go all out on their outfits start calling for custom-made hats as early as February. Those looking to go all out are also spending thousands of dollars: There are several ticket options that exceed $4,000.
I found out the week of the 144th Kentucky Derby that I'd be attending and scrambled to put together an outfit and make semi-affordable travel plans.
To say I was a Derby rookie would be an understatement: I'd never had a mint julep and didn't know what a fascinator was until I bought one a few days before the race. I'd also never seen a horse race, live or on television. To further complicate things, I'd be completely on my own.