Currently spanning 147 acres, the Churchill Downs racetrack was the one to become the home of the world-renowned Kentucky Derby 100 years after Kentucky had already initiated its racing history. The inaugural race that gathered 10,000 spectators to watch 15 thoroughbreds run the 1.5 mile course, unwittingly sparked off a tradition that would continuously run for over 140 years: the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

It took Churchill Downs 28 years after its foundation to show its first profit, but it currently holds the record for the longest-running sporting event in the United States. Today, its star attraction draws a crowd of over 170,000 spectators and has been called the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Located on Central Avenue, in south Louisville, Kentucky, it officially opened in 1875. Years later, the twin spires atop the grandstands (trademark of Churchill Downs) were added to the Besides the track, clubhouse and stables, Churchill Downs also contains the Kentucky Derby Museum, which is regularly open year-around and contains exhibits of thoroughbred horses, plus a 360-degree cinema.

The track, owned and operated by Churchill Downs Incorporated, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

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Churchill Downs Racetrack Facts:

  • Racecourse type: flat
  • Location: South Louisville, Kentucky
  • Purse: 2.0 million dollars.
  • Venue capacity: 170,000 spectators (with infield).
  • Track length: (single lap) 1.25 miles.
  • Important track records: (1907) African American jockey James Lee won the entire six-race card.