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The Glory & Splendor

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Churchill Downs

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Churchill Downs: a Legacy
Sebastien Veilleux

Any horse racing lover worth his or her weight knows about
Churchill Downs. This legendary track is rich with memorable
horse racing moments. The track was and is home to top horses
from all over the country—even the world. To say that the horse
racing action at Churchill Downs is loved by all would be a
grave understatement. In the world of horse racing, Churchill
Downs is a masterpiece.

Churchill Downs has a slow beginning. The famed Kentucky Jockey
Club was formed in 1809. However, some 70 years would pass
before the first glorious race at Churchill Downs would
actually take place. Even the most casual of horse racing fans
are familiar with the Triple Crown. One of the Triple Crown
races, the Kentucky Derby, is held each year at Churchill
Downs. At a time when race relations in the USA were not the
best, it was a bit ironic that jockey Oliver Lewis who was an
African American won the very first Kentucky Derby.

Back in 1883, the name "Churchill Downs" first appeared in a
newspaper article. However, it would take until 1937 for the
track to officially incorporate the soon to be legendary name.
To raise fund for the track, Clark—who decided on the final
spot for the track—sold 320 memberships to Churchill Downs.
These memberships we sold at the whopping cost of $100 each. At
the time, $100 was a good deal of money.

Today, the Churchill Downs is owned and operated by Churchill
Downs Incorporated (CDI). They run many horse racing tracks
around the country, including: Churchill Downs, Arlington Park,
Calder Race Course, Ellis Park, Fair Grounds Race Course and
Hoosier Park. All of these tracks have one thing in common—they
are great horse racing tracks.

Did you know that the Kentucky Derby was first televised in
1952? That's when the famous race really got a boost. It was
the 77th running of the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby has
always been a solid race, and today it's one of the biggest.
Each year the purse is normally $1,000,000 to $2,000,000.
Popular and legendary horse, Smarty Jones, won the Kentucky
Derby at Churchill Downs back in 2004. It was special in that
the purse, some $6,000,000, was double the amount in 2005. It
just shows you what an exciting horse can do for the sport.

The Churchill Downs is rich in history. If you have never
visiting Churchill Downs, try and make it some day. Betting on
the races at Churchill Downs are exciting whether you are there
in person or not.

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