Kentucky Derby Museum Barn and Backside Tour - Louisville Article

Kentucky Derby Museum Barn and Backside Van Tour at Churchill Downs

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Kentucky Derby Museum Barn and Backside Van Tour at Churchill Downs

Published Mar 20, 2018
Updated Jan 10, 2019

When the topic of Kentucky finds its way into a conversation, one of the first things that come up is usually the Kentucky Derby. Known as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” this title comes with plenty of fascinating history that extends far deeper than what most of us are familiar with; the Mint Juleps, My Old Kentucky Home, and a lively infield.

By: Joey Yazell

But what many of us don’t know is what goes on along the backside of the track at Churchill Downs during racing sessions before and after the Kentucky Derby. Fortunately, visitors can can get a true behind-the-scenes racing experience, thanks to the Kentucky Derby Museum, which offers a variety of van and walking tours that showcase the various layers of activities that come together to provide the total racing experience at Churchill Downs.

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I recently went on the Kentucky Derby Museum's Barn and Backside Van Tour at Churchill Downs Racetrack, which gives you a first-hand look into the world of Thoroughbred racing. Here, you’ll discover the unique character and life force of racing at Churchill Downs, get a feel for all of the inner workings of everyday life and - of course - Kentucky Derby Day. You may even get a glimpse of Thoroughbreds training on the track during your tour. 

Each Barn and Backside van tour is hosted by highly knowledgeable guides that are both funny and insightful. The route takes you underneath and all around the legendary track and also to the backside. You’ll learn all kinds of interesting facts along the way. For example, did you know that the track goes down 25 feet below the racing surface?

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The Historic Walking Tour takes you to the Paddock, giving you amazing views of the famous Twin Spires, and out to see views of the historic racetrack. The guides on the walking tour are lots of fun and are happy to answer any and all questions you might have before they take you to see the Museum's resident Thoroughbred and mini-horse, Winston, in the garden stable area just outside of the Kentucky Derby Museum and Derby Café.

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After absorbing the tours of Churchill Downs, you can try your luck jockeying for first on a race simulator, or place some bets on races from back in the day in the Kentucky Derby Museum. But most importantly, be sure to check out the signature exhibit, “The Greatest Race.” This 360-degree movie about the life of a derby horse will send chills down your spine. The 18-minute movie is in one of the only 360 degree 4k hi-res theatres in the world at the Kentucky Derby Museum. After the movie, you can also browse lots of interactive exhibits like the new “Man O’War” exhibit and plenty of others on both floors of the museum that provide additional insight into what makes Thoroughbred racing such a fascinating sport.

Experiencing the Barn and Backside Van Tour at Churchill Downs and the Historic Walking Tour, both offered by the Kentucky Derby Museum, gives participants a real appreciation for the Kentucky Derby, the Churchill Downs Racetrack and and its deep history. In fact, the Museum is the only place in the world where you can experience the excitement of Kentucky Derby day, every day!


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