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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Down the Stretch They Come!

What’s new at Churchill Downs ahead of this year’s Kentucky Derby

Jockey Oliver Lewis surging his chestnut colt Aristides to the finish line on May 17, 1875, was the first of many history-making moments at Louisville, Kentucky’s Churchill Downs Racetrack, home to the “greatest two minutes in sports.”

Fans attending the 150th Run for the Roses on May 4 will notice a blend of tradition and innovation during the sesquicentennial celebration of pageantry and horse racing.

Churchill Downs, a National Historic Landmark, has expanded its saddling paddock for $200 million, doubling its size and adding seating. The stalls are being relocated beneath Churchill’s iconic twin spires. Also new is Club SI, a luxury dining experience on the west side of the paddock that is a partnership between Sports Illustrated and Churchill Downs.

A 90-minute Superstars and Spires Tour provides a behind-the-scenes peek at private areas such as the exclusive Millionaires Row, where celebrities and dignitaries sip mint juleps with an enviable view of the finish line.

At the adjacent Kentucky Derby Museum, the “Black Heritage in Racing” exhibit chronicles the Black equestrians who worked as jockeys, breeders, trainers, and groomers and dominated the sport in the latter half of the 19th Century.

Upstairs, view the museum’s newest permanent exhibit hon- oring Secretariat, who won the 1973 Kentucky Derby in his first step to a Triple Crown sweep. Visitors can relive each of the three races on a 10-foot screen.

Get to Louisville early for the Kentucky Derby Festival, which runs for two weeks leading up to the race and includes a gospel concert, balloon fest, and the annual Thunder over Louisville.


Kentucky Derby Festival • April 13-May 1, 2024 • kdf.org

Kentucky Derby • May 4, 2024 • kentuckyderby.com

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