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A Guide To Churchill Downs Racecourse

Last Updated: September 19, 2017

A Guide To Churchill Downs Racecourse

Churchill Downs, also known for hosting the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, is a racecourse that is located in Louisville, Kentucky. The race meets happen thrice a year in Spring, September, as well as Fall. The racecourse had opened up in 1875 and since then, it has hosted the Breeders Cup as well as the Kentucky Derby.


The track is named after Henry and John Churchill who had initially leased their 80-acre land to their nephew Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. Churchill Downs was a great addition in the area as it compensated for the loss of two earlier racecourses, namely the Oakland and Woodlawn.

Clark Jr. sold the track to William E. Applegate because of lack of funds in the 1890s. The new owner made a number of changes like commissioning the twin spire grandstand and shortening the length of the race to 1-1⁄4 miles. During this time, a new clubhouse was also made that encouraged social interaction and hosted new events like automobile races, bank concerts, and steeplechases.

Facilities of Churchill Downs Racecourse

The racetrack is spread over 147 acres and boasts of an oval racetrack, a 7-furlong turf race course, as well as a one-mile dirt. Due to its excellent infrastructure, the place has hosted the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby continuously since 1875 as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championship for eight times.

The track has been renovated a number of times since its original construction. The new grandstand and clubhouse can entertain more than 165,000 people, which is generally the number on Kentucky Derby Day. Some of the renovation work that has taken place includes integrated simulcast areas, private luxury suites, as well as installation of floodlights that helps during night time race programs.

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One of the most famous landmarks of the place is the Twin Spires that are located on the top of the grandstands and is said to be a symbol of the racetrack. These spires were especially designed by Joseph Dominic Baldez in 1895.

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