When it comes to the horse racing history and action in the United States, no state has bigger bragging rights than Kentucky. It is home to Churchill Downs and Keeneland, the most famous horse racing tracks in Kentucky. If you plan to visit the state and are a fan of racing, visiting these tracks are a must. Here’s a brief look at what makes them special.

Churchill Downs

The famed Twin Spires in Louisville, Kentucky are identified with horse racing throughout the world. Churchill Downs has long been the most revered horse racing track in the United States, and it is still the home of the Kentucky Derby.

The track officially opened in 1875. It was named after Samuel Churchill and the Churchill family. In that same year, Churchill Downs saw the very first running of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. The Kentucky Derby would go on to become the centerpiece of the Triple Crown, and it is still held at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. This has been the long-standing tradition. The tradition has only be broken a few times. The most recent was the 2020 Kentucky Derby which was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


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Churchill Downs has also played host to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Few horse racing tracks inspire the type of awe that Louisville’s racing venue does. The seating area in the clubhouse known as Millionaire’s Row should tell you all you need to know about how relevant the track is.

During Kentucky Derby week it is not uncommon to see many celebrities pour into Kentucky to watch the race and other assorted events. The best horses, trainers, and jockeys compete at Churchill Downs on a regular basis. You can not go wrong if a trip to the track presents itself.


There are many people who claim that Keeneland is the most beautiful race track in the world. Indeed, it is a track with a flair for the elegant side of horse racing. Keeneland is located in Lexington, Kentucky and is operated by the Keeneland Association, Inc. which also conducts sales of thoroughbred horses.

In 2009 there was a ranking conducted by the Horseplayer’s Association of North America (HANA) of the top race tracks in the United States. The award is well-deserved. Anyone that has ever visited the track will tell you that it is very friendly to the handicapper. There is something about the atmosphere that appeals to the hardcore horse bettor.

There are typically two meets each year at the Keeneland Racecourse. These are held in the spring and in the fall. One of the highlights of each meet is the debut of two-year-old horses that are running for the very first time. Some of these two-year-old horses will eventually go on to become contenders for the Triple Crown in their three-year-old year.

The horses that have passed through the sales ring at Keeneland have also had great success. 18 winners of the Kentucky Derby were sold at the Keeneland auction, and more than 80 Breeders’ Cup winners have also been purchased at the track. In the very beginning, Keeneland was a 147-acre property that focused more on sales than on live racing.

Kentucky Downs and Louisville Downs

While the biggest horse racing tracks in Kentucky get most of the attention, there are also a couple of minor tracks that would be worth checking out if you are making the trip.

Kentucky Downs is located in Franklin, Kentucky. It is a smaller track that also includes slot machine gaming. The races at Kentucky Downs are of a lower caliber than you will find at Churchill Downs or Keeneland. Most of the races on a given day are claiming events for cheaper horses.

Louisville Downs in Louisville is a small track that is almost in the shadow of Churchill Downs. It does not attract the attention of its larger cousin, but there are still plenty of exciting races when the meet is open. The track lacks many of the amenities that you will find in the larger tracks as well.

Even the minor tracks in Kentucky still try to uphold the splendor of the sport of horse racing. It is not uncommon to find individuals dressed in their nice clothes on a Wednesday at the track, sipping Mint Juleps and enjoying the day.

Betting Horse Racing Tracks in Kentucky

Following the horse racing circuit in Kentucky can be profitable for someone who is willing to put in the time and effort. There are certain trainers like Wesley Ward who are almost a guaranteed bet at Keeneland when racing two-year old horses. Some jockeys like Calvin Borel are just better at Churchill Downs than any other jockey. Borel has won an amazing three Kentucky Derby races.

The quality of the horses that compete at Churchill Downs also makes the races much more difficult to handicap. This isn’t a bad thing. You can get better odds on the horses that you bet when forming an opinion is more challenging for the racing public.

If you want the absolute best experience when betting horse racing tracks in Kentucky, try an online racebook. You don’t even have to leave home to make all your bets. With a computer, phone, or tablet you can access the same betting menu that is available on the track.

Convenience is just one reason to bet horses online. Another is bonuses and promotions. Online racebooks often run special promotions during the Triple Crown series, and some will reward frequent players with bonuses and perks. You also get the free past performances and race replays with your online racebook account.  AmWager is a good one!

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