(BPT) - Nowhere else in the sporting world do natural beauty, heart-racing excitement and gentility meet so perfectly as in horse racing, the 'sport of kings.' And no horse race has garnered more fame and prestige than the Kentucky Derby, which, at 140 years running, is the oldest continuously held sporting event in the United States.
You don't have to be an equine aficionado to appreciate the thrill of thoroughbreds thundering down the dirt track in pursuit of the winner's garland. Yes, the Kentucky Derby is indeed the first leg of horse racing's coveted Triple Crown, but it's also a venerated Southern tradition replete with mint juleps, extravagant hats, and the familiar strains of the classic Stephen Foster song, 'My Old Kentucky Home.'
Whether your interest in the Kentucky Derby is primarily sporting or social, competitive or cultural, a tour celebrating the annual Run for the Roses is sure to please. One such tour is offered by the 89-year-old leader in guided travel, Tauck. The company's five-day 'Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby' event (from April 30 - May 4, 2014) actually offers travelers a choice of two different themed sightseeing programs; 'Thoroughbred World' focuses a bit more on the world of thoroughbred horse racing, while 'Bluegrass Country' highlights both thoroughbred racing and the history and culture of Kentucky's famed Bluegrass Country.
Although the daily sightseeing itineraries vary somewhat, guests on both sightseeing programs reconvene for special gala evenings, and for a once-in-a-lifetime VIP experience on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Both programs also embrace two famous hallmarks of Kentucky: bluegrass music and bourbon.
Leading up to the Derby, travelers on the 'Thoroughbred World' sightseeing program will get a behind-the-scenes tour of a Lexington-area horse farm, and they will visit the 130-acre Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, where they can sample Kentucky's signature spirit. On 'Oaks Day' (one day prior to the Derby), guests will attend the 140th running of the Kentucky Oaks race; known as the 'Run for the Lilies,' it is the traditional precursor to the famed Derby. Tauck's VIP seating lets guests choose one of two exclusive vantage points for watching the race - either the Winner's Circle or the Jockey Club Suite.
Travelers on 'Bluegrass Country' will enjoy guided visits to historic sites throughout the Lexington area, including Ashland, the estate of Kentucky statesman of Henry Clay, who was an early patron of horse racing and a breeder of thoroughbreds. Guests will also visit Thoroughbred Park, Kentucky Horse Park and the International Museum of the Horse.
Both sightseeing programs include a visit to Keeneland, the world-renowned thoroughbred horse racing and auction complex. During a cocktail reception there, guests will have the opportunity to learn more about the sport of kings from a true insider, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who will talk about the Derby and his experiences in the horse racing world.
On Derby Day, all Tauck guests will attend the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, where they will be immersed in the excitement and pageantry of race day in true Tauck VIP style. Tauck guests will enjoy exclusive seating with unmatched views of the finish line, mint juleps and other libations from a complimentary open bar, catered dining throughout the day, and a live pari-mutuel teller.
Tauck's all-inclusive Kentucky Derby package includes four nights accommodations at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa in Lexington, all meals, all sightseeing and admission to all attractions, all gratuities, airport transfers, and much more.
To learn more about Tauck's Kentucky Derby tour and put yourself in the heart of the action, visit www.tauck.com. To learn more about the Kentucky Derby, including the horses in the running this year, visit www.kentuckyderby.com.