Churchill Downs

On Saturday May 5th, Churchill Downs Racetrack will host the 144th running of The Kentucky Derby.  Located at 700 Central Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky, it is one of the oldest, and well known thoroughbred tracks in the country.  It is easily identified by its signature trademark the twin spires (steeples) that sit atop the grandstand.  The spires have no practical purpose, and were actually an afterthought of the original design.  Although they do provide a nice backdrop for exciting finishes.  It’s main track (dirt) is a one mile oval, while the main (inside) turf track is 7/8 of a mile.  Interestingly, grass racing here was not introduced until 1987.  Churchill Downs is the flagship operation of Churchill Downs Incorporated, which in 2004 purchased another popular racing venue, The Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans.  Churchill Downs was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

The first Kentucky Derby ran in 1875.  Making it the longest continuously held major sporting event in America. Over 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at the track on Derby Day.  Even with a ‘short pour’ that’s a lot of bourbon.  Kentucky Derby weekend the track uses every bit of its 165,000 ‘seating’ capacity and more, while millions more will watch on television. (the first national broadcast of The Derby aired May 3rd, 1952)   A thoroughbred racing mecca, Churchill Downs, and The Kentucky Derby maintain a timeless appeal which continues to grow.

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