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Churchill Downs

On this page, you will learn everything you need to know about Churchill Downs in Kentucky including how to get in contact, if there is a sports betting option there, and much more.

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If you are even remotely interested in horse racing, you have likely heard of Churchill Downs, as it remains one of the most famous horse racing venues on the planet. Dating back to the 19th century, horse racing fans have flocked to 700 Central Ave. to catch the first leg of what is referred to as the American Triple Crown; the Kentucky Derby.

Spanning 147 acres in total, the property is way more than your average horse racing track, as we take a closer look at everything you need to know when it comes to Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

About Churchill Downs in KY

Opened in 1875 at 700 Central Ave just outside downtown Louisville, KY, Churchill Downs is best known for hosting the Kentucky Derby annually on the first Saturday in May. Known for the spectacle of elaborate hats, flowing mint juleps, and gambling, the Kentucky Derby has over time become a hot spot for celebrities and America’s elite.

Featuring a one-mile dirt track and a seven-furlong turf course, Churchill Downs encompasses 147 acres of some of the most valuable real estate in Kentucky. The shining architecture is The Twin Spires, which house the grandstand and have become an iconic symbol of the venue. In total, the facility can accommodate more than 150,000 patrons, with everything from grandstand seating to infield space, and luxury suites.

In addition to the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs in KY hosts a variety of significant races throughout the year, including the Kentucky Oaks which is held the day before the Derby. In total, the track’s racing season runs from April to July, as well as from late October to November.

While the horse race track at Churchill Downs, rightfully so, gets all the attention, also on the property is The Kentucky Derby Museum, a simulcast betting facility, event spaces for meetings, weddings, concerts, and more, and several food and beverage options. Recently, with the successful passing of sports betting legislation in Kentucky in March 2023, Churchill Downs in KY also rolled out a sportsbook.

Does Churchill Downs have sports betting options?

Yes, as of September 7, 2023, Churchill Downs officially opened a sportsbook, as part of an initiative from their parent company Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) across many of their properties in the Bluegrass State. Located on the second floor of the clubhouse in the Aristides Lounge, the Churchill Downs Sportsbook is a comprehensive Michigan sports betting experience, featuring dozens of self-service kiosks to get in on the action.

All of the most popular sports and leagues in the world, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, UFC, and more are available for betting. All of the most common bet types are available for wagering including money lines, parlays, totals, in-play (live) betting, prop bets, and future bets.

Which sportsbook does Churchill Downs have a partnership with?

As part of House Bill 551 sports betting legislation that passed in Kentucky in March 2023, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) issued licenses to a handful of CDI properties including Churchill Downs in Kentucky. As part of the regulation set forth, Kambi became the exclusive provider of odds and partner of all the retail sportsbooks in the state.

Despite the Churchill Downs and Kambi partnership including no live betting windows, there are more than a dozen self-service sports betting kiosks located throughout the race and sportsbook for bettors to use. For fans of mobile sports betting, Churchill Downs Sportsbook also offers a QR code where bettors can download the Bet Builder App for their Android and iOS devices.

Churchill Downs Race and Sportsbook is one of less than a dozen retail sportsbooks in Kentucky, which also include Newport Racing & Gaming, The Mint Gaming Hall at Cumberland Run, Ellis Park Racetrack, Churchill Downs, Cumberland Run, Oak Grove Racing & Gaming, Red Mile Racing & Gaming, Sandy’s Racing & Gaming, and Turfway Park Racing & Gaming.

With national operators like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel restricted to mobile betting, the CDI and Kambi partnership is a unique one in the sports betting space as they completely control sports betting in Kentucky.

Does Churchill Downs offer other types of gambling?

While the iconic horse race track at Churchill Downs gets all the attention, rightfully so, there are other types of gambling available on the property. Let’s take a closer look at the other types of gambling offered at Churchill Downs today.

  • Horse Race Betting: Of course, visitors at Churchill Downs can take part in Kentucky horse betting, wagering on the horse races that happen there throughout the year, including the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, amongst others.
  • Sports Betting: Introduced in September 2023, there is now a Churchill Downs Race & Sportsbook where bettors can use self-service kiosks to get in on the action.
  • Simulcast Betting: Also known as off-track-betting (OTB), Churchill Downs in KY has a simulcast betting facility that allows visitors to bet on horse races happening throughout the country, and then watch them play out live.
  • Historical Horse Racing (HHR) Machines: Similar to slot machines, HHR machines are electronic games that operate with different themes and denominations. Unlike slot machines, however, that rely on random generators, HHR machines use results from past horse races to determine winners.

History of Churchill Downs

With a history dating back more than 150 years, the history of Churchill Downs is a long and illustrious one. Let’s take a look at a few of these key dates in the history of Churchill Downs, and how we got to where they are today.

  • 1875: Officially opening its doors on May 17, 1875, Churchill Downs was founded by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr, with the first Kentucky Derby hosted on the grounds that year.
  • 1895: The iconic Twin Spires that sit on both ends of the grandstand were added following a design from Dominic Baldez.
  • 1902: After falling under financial turmoil, the track would be rescued by a syndicate spearheaded by Matt Winn who would make significant improvements to the Kentucky Derby, turning it into a marquee event.
  • 1937: Enhancing fairness and safety to all their races, Churchill Downs installed their first electronic starting gates.
  • 1952: For the first time in the race’s history, the Kentucky Derby was televised on national television, significantly increasing its popularity across the country.
  • 1986: Churchill Downs was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark, signifying its importance in American sports and cultural heritage.
  • 2005: Churchill Downs had a major renovation which included a host of luxury seats, other upgraded seating, improved horse facilities, and more.
  • 2009: “Downs After Dark” was introduced, which for the first time brought night racing to Churchill Downs.
  • 2023: Following the passing of House Bill 551 in the Kentucky House and Senate, sports betting was legalized in Kentucky in March 2023. On September 7, 2023, a sportsbook opened at Churchill Downs, offering sports betting right along with horse race betting.

Contact & opening hours

Address: 700 Central Avenue, Louisville, KY 40208
Opening hours: Vary depending on the time of year and events.
Website: https://www.churchilldowns.com
E-mail address: Contact Form
Phone number: (502) 636-4400