Churchill Downs Continues Derby Legacy

Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby are iconic to Louisville, KY's culture

On Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 19:30

And ... they're off!

In 1875, Churchill Downs race track officially opened in Louisville and began its storied tradition as "Home of the Kentucky Derby." Today, the Derby typically features 12-20 top 3-year-old thoroughbred horses that gallop for 1 1/4 miles over the dirt surface on the first Saturday in May.

The race takes only about two minutes to complete and has been given the nickname, “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” It also goes by the moniker “The Run for the Roses,” for the blanket of roses that is draped over the winning horse.

Permanent seating at Churchill Downs is 52,000, and the infield can accommodate more than 100,000 additional spectators on Derby Day. The purse for the Kentucky Derby in 2011 is $2 million, with about $1.5 million going to the winner.

By the way, many Derby Day attendees are sure to sample a mint julep, the traditional beverage of the race. It is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and a sugar syrup. Click on this link for a great mint julep recipe.

A couple of other quick points about the Derby: The first national telecast of the race aired in May 1952, and that was the same year that the first barns constructed of concrete firewalls were built.

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