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Churchill Downs
704 Central Ave.
Louisville, Ky 40208
502-637-7097
website

Our first stop in Louisville was Churchill Downs, home to (at the time of our visit) 134 consecutive annual runnings of the Kentucky Derby. We took a tour of the grandstands and are looking to make friends with some well-to-do type now that we’ve learned how much it costs to attend the Derby and actually see it.

We got to see a few of the horses exercised on the track from up close and compared ourselves to a life-sized bronze statue of a renowned jockey. We felt quite… how should we put this… tall.

We then took the Backstage and Barn tour so we could admire the famous track and grandstands from a different perspective. We weren’t allowed to get as up close and personal with the horsies as we would have liked but we did get close enough that one handsome creature could pose for us. We think she wanted to be friends. We know she did. Why wouldn’t they let us be friends with her? Just because she’s worth tens of thousands of dollars? Should mere money stand in the way of being buddies, pals, friends for life? Maybe she had heard from the deer at Santa’s Fun Land about how we were just good for a snack or two, but her soulful eyes said she just liked us for ourselves.

Our guide for the tour was a sassy Southern horse gal whose every other word was “y’all” and who randomly stopped the tour to just chat with people that she happened to see. “Hey y’all! How ya doin? Oh me, not doin’ much.” This said while she has a van full of people puzzled why the van has come to a halt. It was amusing in a ultra-casual attitude kind of way, but in the end we really think that at least she’d be fun to drink with.

As always there wasn’t quite enough time to take in everything at the museum, which is crammed full of interesting exhibits on various aspects and components of the legendary Derby and the track that hosts it. Mary tried riding a simulated horse race and discovered it is pretty hard to be a jockey.

We checked out exhibits on everything from the presence of African-American jockeys to the details and history behind the horseshoe of roses awarded to the victor. We wanted to pay our respects to the late Barbaro but his gravesite and monument have not been installed yet.

For Mary who was a horse buff as a kid and still a fan as an adult and who has watched every Derby in the last 35 years, there was a visceral reaction being around this place.


Churchill Downs. The tree at the left of the photo is the future final resting place for Barbaro.


Inside the museum.


Go, Mary, Go!!


The paddock in the background and the famed tunnel in which the horses make their way to the track.


The Derby winning circle in the background.


Ditto.


Strike a pose.


The finish line.


Us in front of the original portion of Churchill Downs, now a National Historic Landmark.


The view from the backstretch.


Our new friend.


Our new friend lookin' pretty for us.

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