Churchill Downs & The Kentucky Derby Museum {Kentucky}

If there is one thing that Kentucky is known for it’s that this is race horse country. Every year millions of people come to Louisville to watch the Kentucky Derby horse race, cheering on their favorite steed while relishing the dapper attire, all here at the legendary race track of Churchill Downs. This racetrack was built in 1875 in what was then the rural area of Louisville. In 1986 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today over 150,000 spectators can fill the seats as they watch the horses race. There has never been a year that the Kentucky Derby was not held, postponed maybe but never canceled. The Derby is held every year on the first weekend in May. The phrase you hear all around is “Run For The Roses”- the winning horse of the Derby has a large arch of thousands of red roses placed around their neck while the rider is presented with an ornate silver trophy. So to ‘run for the roses’ is running to win.

We arrived at Churchill Downs for our scheduled tour. With the Derby coming up in a few weeks, the place was buzzing with workers getting everything ready. The tour took us through the building of the race track while the guide told us about the history of the Kentucky Derby. The end of the tour had us out in the stands looking out over the dirt track where thousands of horses have claimed their fame. Horses that run in the Derby are very carefully selected with particular attention paid to their pedigree chart. Each horse begins training the day after they are born. They are trained for three years and then they begin racing. Some people have argued that horse racing is inhuman to the horses, but most trainers and riders will tell you that the horses love that opportunity to run with such strength and force. The relationship between rider and horse is a powerful communication and teamwork that drives them to win the race together.

After the tour we made our way through the Kentucky Derby Museum. This museum showcases the many races that have been held here. It gives a great understanding of the sport and the process of training the horses for the race. There are some interactive areas, the best of which being being part of a virtual horse race next to others while on top a plastic horse. There is a display case hosting thousands of different awards and commemorative articles from past races. Special sections are dedicated to women racers, and the different jockey apparel, and the history of horse shoes. Probably the best part of the museum though is the 360 video that has you sitting on swiveling chairs as you turn every direction to watch a powerful movie about the Derby. The video is so well done and being surrounded by it is an incredible experience. And of course we had to spend a few minutes trying on the elaborately beautiful headwear that is the proper attire for the Derby. This is such an important part of Kentucky and is absolutely a must see of Louisville. {Know if you go :: General admission tickets include the tour, the museum, and the 360 video. Be sure to arrive a little early for your tour. They will not let you join a later tour if you miss your time.}

If you want to know more about this historic race track and the Kentucky Derby, go to ::

3 responses to “Churchill Downs & The Kentucky Derby Museum {Kentucky}”

  1. Another interesting venue and museum. I’ve been to the famous Happy Valley racecourse on four separate visits to Hong Kong as it’s such a spectacular setting and even though I’m not into horse racing, it’s such an interesting evening. I’d heard of the Kentucky Derby but knew nothing about it so thank you for sharing.

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