Kentucky Derby Etiquette Do's and Don'ts

The Kentucky Derby is to horse racing what Wimbledon is to tennis, what the Super Bowl is to American football. As such, only a select few people can actually attend the hallowed event, yet millions of people around the world are riveted on the action as it happens in real time. It is a true crossover event in that people of all walks of life can take joy in the outcome; it's not just for the gamblers and the equestrians. Whether one is lucky enough to get a ticket to the Kentucky Derby or is watching from a race track or an off-track betting location (most of which include libations), there are some rules of etiquette - things to do and not to do - when watching the Kentucky Derby.

Don't Bet Too Early. As with any other horse race, the odds will move in the closing moments, which can cause second-guessing and self-doubt.

Do Have Your Stuff Together. Everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. Know what you want before you go up there, or everyone will be less than pleased.

Don't Bet Too Late. Getting stuck in line is for the birds. Of course, your wait-time in line depends on the next one...

Do Your Homework. There are any number of programs, publications and websites devoted to the Sport of Kings. A little research goes a long way at the betting window or at the water cooler... But get your own Daily Racing Form, rather than grabbing someone else's when they go to the bathroom.

Don't Fall in Love. The media loves to hype certain horses coming into the big races, including the Kentucky Derby. Enjoy the ride, but don't necessarily fall for it. For every surprise upset or tragic outcome, there are only two things that determine the outcome of the race: The horse and the jockey.

Do Be Flexible. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and many more ways to pick the ponies. Middle-odds horses can be often be relied on to show or place. If you aren't trying to pay your mortgage with your wager - and shame on you if you are - there's some decent cash to be had, at least enough to pay for your night out.

Don't Be a Sucker. Everyone dreams of hitting on a long shot, and sometimes it happens, but if you want to get some return on your investment, put heavy money on the big favorites and hope to get back your cash plus a few bucks. (All apologies to those who applied this obvious strategy to Zenyatta a couple of years ago.)

Do Order a Beer. If you're at the race, by all means, have a mint julep. If you're at a bar, especially an OTB, the bartender will be going bonkers. Do him or her a favor - order a beer, not something that requires extra labor. It's someone's place of work, not your Old Kentucky Home.