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a day at the races: churchill downs

on the saturday morning of our trip to kentucky, amy and i made our way from our camping spot in jefferson memorial forest back up to louisville. the night before, we had spend the night exploring downtown louisville, but there was one thing we wanted to see before we made our way south: churchill downs.

First stop… breakfast.

wagner’s pharmacy

On the morning of the race, Amy and I got some breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy. Wagner’s opened in 1922 and has been a “low-key meeting spot for coffee and conversation among horsemen and racing writers” ever since. These days, it’s a beloved Louisville staple located directly across the street from Churchill Downs, but it still has a very casual, humble feeling as soon as you walk inside.

“Wagner’s is Churchill Downs; Churchill Downs is Wagner’s.”

Amy and I snagged spots at the counter, watched & listened to the lady at the stove seemingly cooking breakfast for everyone, and had some eggs & bacon before heading over to the race.

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churchill downs

As you will soon see, this was not a particularly lit day at Churchill Downs. The big race – the Kentucky Derby – had been held 3 weeks earlier, and I guess on random other Saturdays, Churchill Downs is just not as poppin.

It was still super cool to be there, though, and though it wasn’t the big day, there were still tons of ladies wearing big fun floppy hats (plus a good number of guys in sear sucker and pastels… oh the South).

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Amy donning her best derby attire 

Churchill Downs officially opened in 1875 – aka it’s been doing it’s thing for 142 years – and the Kentucky Derby has been held annually at Churchill Downs every year since then, making the longest running sporting event in the United States. The race is also known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.”

I must say. Even though we weren’t at the Kentucky Derby itself, the minutes we spent watching the races were EX. CI. TING.

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When Amy and I realized that the infamous Mint Juleps are pretty much just straight up bourbon over some shaved ice….. yikes

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Creeped on this couple because of their adorable outfits. How cute are they though. Ugh

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Before the races started, Amy and I put some bets on a few horses. My first time gambling on horses!!! What a thrill! One of my horses won first place during one of the races, which was so lit, and I think I ended up making about $13. Pretty much the most exciting $13 of my life.

We spent about 2 hours wandering around Churchill Downs (it was so dead that we pretty much had free reign to sit anywhere), sipping mint juleps, people watching, and unsticking ourselves from the metal seats (it was like 93 degrees and sunny…ugh). I’d like to go back to see the actual Kentucky Derby someday… but our little introduction was just right. And we couldn’t stay too long anyway… Elizabethtown awaited!

Have you ever been to Churchill Downs?

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3 Comments

  • Reply Hannah Myer

    Laughed so hard at “As you will soon see, this was not a particularly lit day at Churchill Downs.”

    July 9, 2016 at 2:25 am
    • Reply kristenhopf@gmail.com

      LOL!!! Well it wasn’t!

      July 9, 2016 at 3:22 am
  • Reply skyward eyes - Our pilgrimage to Elizabethtown, Kentucky

    […] spending our first night down south camping near Louisville and betting on horses at Churchill Downs in true Kentuckian fashion, we made our way to Elizabethtown… but not without making a minor […]

    July 15, 2016 at 4:36 pm
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