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    Churchill Downs Off Season Tour

    Louisville, Kentucky

    Attending the Kentucky Derby is most definitely on my bucket list. Although I haven’t (yet) seen the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports in person, I did get the opportunity to tour Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Even in the off season, a trip to Churchill Downs has a lot to offer for horse lovers.

    Bucket List

    I happened to be in Louisville and on a whim decided to take a quick trip over to Churchill Downs. At the time I figured it would be fun just to see the track and maybe I’d be lucky enough to see a horse. I had no idea what a treasure I would find when I stumbled upon the Kentucky Derby Museum. What a great day this turned out to be!

    Situated next to the race track, the Kentucky Derby Museum is full of fun surprises. General admission includes access to the Museum’s two floors of exhibits, viewing of the 360° movie “The Greatest Race” , and a guided track visit.

    I started my visit in the immersive viewing room and watched “The Greatest Race“. Hearing the thundering hooves while getting a panoramic view of all of the action made me feel like I was right in the middle of the track on race day!

    Riders Up!

    Next, I visited the interactive exhibits area, where I climbed inside the first electric starting gate ever used. As I jumped up on the race horse inside, I got a the feeling of what it’s like to be in the starting gate. Sitting in the gate was even narrower than I imagined it would be. It gave me such a respect for the bravery of the jockeys. What a view!

    Once out of the starting gate, I tried my luck as a jockey in the race simulator. Trying to maintain the jockey stance throughout the entire simulated race gave me even more respect for the athleticism of these riders. They sure make it look a lot easier than it is. After I dismounted, I took my wobbly legs over to the next exhibits….

    An entire section of the museum is dedicated to America’s Horse, Secretariat. The exhibit tells the story of this amazing horse in such a unique way. Watching all three of his triple crown races on the big screen, I was even more awestruck by his accomplishments as well as his big heart! His triple crown records remain standing today.

    Oh, the hats!

    It wouldn’t be the Kentucky Derby without the hats! I loved this part of the exhibit and was amazed by the creativity of so many of the hats on display. Definitely had me thinking about what I’ll wear when I finally make it to derby day.

    Derby Museum Stable

    Moving from the indoor exhibits to the Kentucky Derby Museum stable was a highlight as well. After admiring so many horses on screen, it was great to get to enjoy a little time outside with the real thing. There’s nothing like the sounds and smells of a stable to put a smile on my face.

    Behind the scenes

    During the guided track visit (included with admission) I got to see behind the scenes. It was really interesting to see the track up close, minus the crowds of people I’m used to seeing when watching the televised race at home. Even on a quiet, rainy day, it was fun to imagine the fanfare and excitement of derby day and all the legendary horses who have raced right here.

    Until next time…

    Well, here’s to dreaming about the derby. I’m hoping 2024 may be my year to check this one off the bucket list for real. In the meantime, touring the grounds at Churchill Downs and visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum was just enough to keep me dreaming. It’s well worth the trip. If you go, be sure to check out the Kentucky staples and sample the bourbon at the Derby Cafe and Bourbon Bar before you leave!