History of the Kentucky Derby

April 30, 2010

All the way back to the 18th century, Kentucky has a special and unique history of horse racing, when Lexington got its very first race course, when Churchill Downs was first officially opened and there were races held in different courses from that time in 1789 to 1875.

In 1872, Col. M Lewis Clark created a Louisville Jockey Club to hold racing meets. To house the best horses in the breeding industry, the development of the new Kentucky racetrack began. The new track was named Churchill Downs by 1883. It was finally incorporated into the Churchill Downs name in 1937.

Publicly the track was established in May of 1874. Clark raised funds over $30,000 dollar, by selling membership subscriptions. At $100 a pop, he sold the subscriptions and leased over 80 acres of land. The whole track had a number of different stables which were completed before the opening race of the track and also had a clubhouse, grandstand, and porter’s lodge.

The Clark Handicap, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Kentucky Derby were the three different races were designed by Clark. The Derby, Clark Handicap, and Kentucky Oaks have continued to be held at the Churchill Downs, since 1875 and remains Kentucky Derby betting favorite.

Over the course of the years, on the Churchill Downs, some of the best horses and jockeys have raced and it has become one of the most prestigious racing venues in all of horse racing. There have been a lot of different renovations over the years, the biggest and the most recent being 2002. The track underwent a $121 million renovation.

In the horse racing circuit, the Churchill Downs racetrack continues to be the best tracks, which showcases some of the best horses in the world and will continue to do the same. It will continue to add to that history as time goes on along with a long history of incredible races.

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