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Churchill Downs Announces 150th Derby Celebration: What Visitors Should Know Before Travelling?

Every Kentucky Derby is a celebration.

There is indeed something special and unique about every edition of the Kentucky Derby, a race that has been run every year without fail since 1875. Whether the running features a stunning upset, a Cinderella story, a hometown hero, or a record-breaking crowd, there is always some happening of historic significance.

Of course, some benchmarks are more obvious than others.

This year, for example, marks the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s glorious victory. The chestnut colt won in track-record time, a time which still stands today as the fastest ever. He went on to win the Triple Crown, setting records in each race.

Even so, this year’s event will likely pale in comparison to what will be seen next year, when the Derby itself celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Although the horses who will take center stage in this Derby have yet to ever enter a starting gate, the preparations are underway at Churchill Downs to make Derby 150 the grandest horse race anyone has ever seen.

churchill downs racetrack

What has Churchill Downs unveiled in anticipation of this extravaganza?

Track Renovations 

Churchill Downs began construction on an expansion of the paddock in preparation for next year’s race. The renovation, which cost an estimated $200 million, will more than double the space in the paddock as well as adding thousands more seats to the grandstand. 

Additionally, new premium areas of the track will be added, such as box seats and viewing areas, where you can browse through expert horse racing picks by TwinSpires with prime comfort.

Derby Of A Lifetime 

Fans will have a chance to win an experience entitled “Derby Of A Lifetime.” Lucky winners will receive VIP tickets to the big race, as well as tickets to the Taste of Derby, where they can sample fine cuisine. They will also get to walk the red carpet donning new clothes from Vineyard Vines, and enjoy special access to the paddock. The ticket also includes airfare and a hotel stay. 

Those who wish to have a chance at winning can enter here. The contest will be run until January of 2024, with winners selected on a monthly basis. Better yet, eager fans are permitted not only to enter once, but to better their chances by submitting entries every day.

Past Winners

Although Churchill Downs has not yet announced specifics, it is likely that they will pay homage to two horses in particular who won significant anniversary editions of the Kentucky Derby.

The 50th Kentucky Derby was run in 1924. The winner was Black Gold, who became (and remains to this day) the only horse to win both the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby. His name was especially clever; it combined his sire’s name (Black Toney) and their shared color with the oil that provided the fortunes for those who lived in Oklahoma, where oil had recently been discovered. Black Gold was known for his uncommon gameness; sterility forced him back into training after a few years’ retirement, and unfortunately the lack of conditioning eventually did him in, causing him to break down mid-race, but with enough courage to cross the finish line anyway.

Cannonade was the winner of the 100th Kentucky Derby in 1974. This Derby drew more entrants than any other, with 23 horses eventually going to the post. It was this overcrowding which led to the imposition of the 20-horse limit for Kentucky Derby entries. The son of Bold Bidder, the same stallion who sired the great Spectacular Bid, had won graded stakes races as a two-year-old, but his Derby victory was the pinnacle of his career, although he did place third in both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. 

Author: Lindsay Griffin

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