Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

While camped at Fort Knox in August doing the PGA Championship, we managed to do a lot of "touring".  Our most recent posts bear that out, and here too is yet another one of those little ventures we took, namely a two hour tour of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
From Wiki:  It officially opened in 1875, and held the first Kentucky Derby and the first Kentucky Oaks in the same year. Churchill Downs has also hosted the renowned Breeders' Cup on eight occasions, most recently in 2011. Churchill Downs Incorporated owns and operates the racetrack. The capacity of Churchill Downs is 120,000.  Barbaro (April 29, 2003 – January 29, 2007) was an American thoroughbred racehorse who decisively won the 2006 Kentucky Derby, but shattered his leg two weeks later in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, ending his racing career and eventually leading to his death.
Above, Miss Nancy in the foreground and the inside paddock area of the enormous facility.
What I was so impressed about was the cleanliness everywhere we walked.  I presume it must maintain these public areas because of the thousands of folks from all over the world visiting here every year.  Above is the "high dollar" lounge/restaurant/viewing area.  The track would be to the left.    
This is a view of the back obviously.  Below is a look back towards the entrance and the museum, and to the right is a row of wagering windows, about twenty here in this location.
A little Wiki trivia:  The track is named for John and Henry Churchill, who leased 80 acres of land to their nephew, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (grandson of explorer William Clark).
Above the paddock, where horse & riders are met and final preparations made just prior to entering the track through the tunnel below, which is directly to my left in the above pic.
Miss Nancy above walking through the tunnel from the paddock area to the track.  Below, a view of the high dollar area where the "Who's Who" of the thoroughbred world congregates to exchange pleasantries and stories from back home.
Above, a close-up of the paddock and the stall where this year's winner, California Chrome.
Once inside the track, you see right away the enormity of this beautiful, old grand facility.  Even though we were confined to a small area at the end of the tunnel, we could see a very large part of the track.
The twin spires atop the grandstands are the most recognizable architectural feature of Churchill Downs and are used as a symbol of the track and the Derby. They were designed by architect Joseph Dominic Baldez and built in 1895.  The tour guide said that they are protected as National Landmarks.
Above, our guide and a few of the visitors.  Straight out is the track and the giant position board and giant screen TV.  Below, the track and looking south east.
Above, the long tunnel under the stands leading to the track from the paddock.  Below, a row of the hundred or so wagering windows.
Note the ATMs.  The video we saw just prior to the tour, a 360-degree cinema that shows the short film "The Greatest Race," a documentary about the Kentucky Derby, (The museum is normally open year-round.) that all bets are 100% cash only.  Can you imagine the amount of cash exchanged here this day?  And there are 10 other races this day as well.  The video said how many millions of $$ but I can't remember.  Below, more of the beautiful grounds near the entrance to the high rollers area.
Above, another row of wagering windows just waiting for the next gaggle of suckers.  And below another view of the track from just inside the tunnel.  
Well, that about wraps up our little foray into the Churchill Downs, and I would recommend if in the area, do take it in.  The 360 degree panorama of the video is worth the price of admission alone.  So, from Stephens Point in the heart of America's Dairyland (and the Crazy Cheeseheads of Wisconsin), RVing Beach Bums signing off.