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Churchill Downs Facts

  • Horse racing in Kentucky is rich in history, dating back to 1789 when the first race course was laid out in Lexington. However, it was almost 100 years later, in 1875, that Churchill Downs officially opened and began its tradition as "Home of the Kentucky Derby."

  • The Churchill Downs race track opened amid great hoopla on May 17, 1875. Believe it or not, the Kentucky Derby was not planned as the main attraction of the inaugural meet, but when H.P. McGrath's Aristides set a new world's record for the mile-and-a-half distance, "the crowd went wild."

  • Churchill Downs has become a leader in simulcast wagering as both a host site and receiver. As a receiver, the $15 million Sports Spectrum, a state-of-the-art wagering center located seven miles from the track and constructed in 1992, has proved a national leader. The success in these areas has helped fuel Churchill Downs horsemen's purses, which have risen from a daily average of $226,000 in 1992 to $416,456 in 2001.

  • The only victory by a Churchill Downs-based horse in the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park was the win by Robert and Beverly Lewis' Folklore in the Juvenile Fillies.