Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky
Kentucky's Churchill Downs is situated on Louisville's Central Avenue and is best-known as the venue for the annual Kentucky Derby. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986, Churchill Downs race track was opened in 1897. Its first year was filled with action as both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby were run here for the first time. Churchill Downs is operated by Churchill Downs Incorporated, a company which has done much to create a world-class racecourse.
Churchill Downs encompasses 147 acres with enough seating for 51,000 eager racegoers and even more if you include the standing area. The main track is a dirt course with a circumference of 1 mile and a width of 80 feet. Within Churchill’s main racing track is a turf track measuring 7/8 of a mile with a width of 80 feet. The Kentucky Derby is raced on Churchill Downs main track every year. Churchill Downs has also held the Breeders’ Cup several times.
Churchill Downs received a face-lift between 2001 and 2005, when a new clubhouse was built along with an additional 79 luxury suites. The symbolic twin spires were also revamped. The new clubhouse features a Pierre Bellocq mural with all of the 96 jockeys who have won the Kentucky Derby since 1875.
Many who visit Churchill Downs race track also stop in at the Kentucky Derby Museum. In the museum you will discover displays regarding the history of the Derby as well as general thoroughbred racing and training. A 360-degree cinema allows patrons to view “The Greatest Race” a short documentary.
Churchill Downs race track has seen its share of famous horses, jockeys, trainers and owners. Libertarian set the record for the 2 mile sprint in 1998 at the age of 4 years with a time of 3:22.26. Alonzo “Lonnnie” Clayton was the youngest jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby at the age of 15 in 1892 on Azra. Isaac Murphy who won the Kentucky Derby 3 times as well as the Derby, Clark Handicap and Oaks in one year is considered by many to be amongst the best riders in America’s racing history.
Churchill Downs has a rich history, brilliant racing events and superb facilities. Racegoers are certain to have a memorable experience at this amazing race track.