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Kentucky Derby 2014: Hats matter on mad hatters in Louisville for annual race

Kentucky Derby Day has arrived as indicated by all the hats worn at Churchill Downs in Louisville while the horses warm up for their crucial run on May 3. For many visitors, this is not their first time to watch the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, others are enchanted as they are initiated into the club that holds bragging rights for being on hand in the Bluegrass State for this legendary event.

Hats matter at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on May 3
Hats matter at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on May 3
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Johnny Weir strikes a pose at Churchill Downs in his Kentucky Derby hat
Johnny Weir strikes a pose at Churchill Downs in his Kentucky Derby hat
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Speaking of the event, today's race takes begins at precisely 6:24, ET. And it's special -- so special that no will call is available at Churchill Downs for today's big run, which will be the 140th version of the Kentucky Derby.

Then there's the dress code, as dictated by the folks who run this event (little pun). No denim, sneakers (tennis shoes), or athletic apparel of any kind is allowed in a number of areas at Churchill Downs, including the Turf Club, the Finish Line Suits and Millionaire's Row. In addition, "worn, torn, or frayed garments, collarless t-shirts, tank tops, and midriff tops are never allowed in reserved seating areas."

In other words, expect for everyone sitting in the infield (a casual place to watch), dressing your best is best, as indicated in the accompanying photo show. These images also show that hats matters on the mad hatters and other participants about to view this nation's race of the year.

Note that pastels are in order on the ladies in session as are hats of all description, a major tradition. While many are in heels, chances are their flip flops or flats are packed in their bag for better comfort when walking long distances, like to their cars parked far from the main action.

Meanwhile, gentlemen often show up in the traditional seersucker suits. If not, light outshines dark in the sport coats category while matching accessories are all the rage. This is particularly true when it comes to ties, some long, some tied in a bow.

That said, some guys don't go with the code of their gender. Enter figure skater Johnny Weir, who is attending the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs while wearing a flamboyant chapeau, a pale pink suit, and black and white wingtip shoes.

And so, as travelers mingle at Churchill Downs waiting for the Kentucky Derby 2014 to start, hats and ties are donned by ardent supporters of this seminal race that takes place every year in the Bluegrass State. May this horse race begin!