Like Jay-Z says, it’s on to the next one.
The Red Rock casino sportsbook was packed before the first game during March Madness even tipped off. I’m writing this from the nearby food court where the Mexican grill is preparing for a busy day. The sportsbook is already loud and it's not even lunchtime.
This is the beginning of one of the best four days to be a sports fan in Las Vegas. Sadly, not everyone who loves sports was able to make it for the gorgeous upper 80 degree days and wall to wall hoops. That's okay, it’s time to look ahead to the next big sports weekend of the year - Derby Weekend.
Non-sports fans in Las Vegas know it as Cinco De Mayo weekend and, while the mainstream sports fan hasn’t caught on, the first Saturday of May is the centerpiece of another one of the best weekends for sports fans in Las Vegas.
The weekend of May 5 through 7 is packed with a variety of betting action that begins as early as 7 am and doesn’t end until close to midnight. While March Madness is topped off with Irish Car Bombs and Guinness, Cinco De Mayo weekend and Derby Day is topped off with margaritas and Coronas.
The day kicks off with a slew of English Premier League soccer games at 7 am. MLB games actually get off to a slow start for this weekend, the first game of the day is the Red Sox at Twins and it doesn’t begin until 11:10 am local time. There are only a few day baseball games to ease you into the Kentucky Derby which takes the post at 3:34 pm. Shortly after the big race, the majority of the MLB card takes the field including the Yankees at Cubs at 4:15.
There’s always a big boxing match after the Kentucky Derby and this year won’t be any different. Sticking with tradition, the fight features some of the best fighters from Mexico. Canelo Alvarez takes on Julio Chavez Jr. at T-Mobile Arena. There's still nothing like a big fight night (UFC or boxing) in Las Vegas.
On top of soccer, baseball, ponies, and boxing we’ll be right in the middle of NBA and NHL playoffs. There will be sports betting action steady throughout the day and into the night.
While there’s a lot to bet on, the pace is much more leisurely than other busy sports weekends. Obviously, MLB, Horse Racing, and Boxing aren’t as popular as they used to be but there will be plenty of excitement for the fight and Kentucky Derby because they’re big events.
However, this weekend is more than just sports. The first weekend in May is also peak weather in Las Vegas. The temperatures are just starting to hit the 100-degree mark, the pools are rocking, and patios all over Las Vegas will be flooded with day drinkers enjoying mint juleps and margaritas.
It’s a great day to enjoy Las Vegas both inside and outside. There are parties all day and night. Kentucky Derby parties during the day lead to Cinco De Mayo parties in the evening. This, of course, leads into nightclubs who will be bringing in the top-shelf talent for the weekend.
Derby Weekend is for the sports fans who look beyond the mainstream. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.