Owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated, Churchill Downs is spread over an area of 147 acres and features a one-mile oval of land and a seven-furlong grass field. The racecourse hosts races during the spring and fall during the months of May and October. The facility and the popular races it conducts have earned Churchill Downs a rank of five out of 65 racetracks in the United States run by the North American Horse Players Association.
Going back to Churchill Downs history, the track is named after Henry and John Churchill, who had leased a portion of the land from their nephew, Colonel Meriwether Clark Jr., who was president of the Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park Association. His father-in-law Richard Ten Broeck, who was an accomplished jockey, introduced him to horse racing to attend the English Derby at Epsom Downs, near London. Churchill Downs filled the void that occurred due to the closure of Oakland and Woodlawn racetracks in the region. Clark, who had trouble operating the track due to race setups, sold the track to a syndicate led by William Applegate in 1893.
Later, in 1902, Applegate turned over the operation of the racecourse to then-Louisville Mayor Charles Grainger in an effort to keep Churchill Downs from being known primarily for gambling. Business was not going well when Col. Matt Winn of Louisville joined a new employers’ union to purchase the facility. Under Winn’s leadership, Churchill Downs prospered and the Kentucky Derby became a standout bet for three-year-old thoroughbred racehorses.
Since then Churchill Downs has not looked back, the facility has had several renovations and improvements that have made Churchill Downs not just a place for horse racing, but a complete public entertainment venue. Modernization in recent years has increased seating capacity to nearly 52,000, 77 luxury suites and new and integrated simulcast areas and other premium venues for the world’s most legendary race track. Churchill Downs also ventured into the music business by hosting the inaugural HullabaLOU Music Festival in July 2010. Other improvements to the race track in recent years have been the installation of permanent lights around its famous dark oval for night races. “Downs After Dark” which was expanded in 2011 to include the “Opening Night” of the Spring Meet.
The other track under discussion is Aqueduct Racetrack, which is located in the borough of Queens in New York City. This thoroughbred racetrack facility first opened in September 1894, where races are generally held from late October / early November through April. Since the racecourse opened in September 1894 by the Queens County Jockey Club, several renovations and improvements have been made to the facility which was taken over by the Greater New York Racing Association in 1955 along with the Saratoga Racecourse, Belmont Park and the racecourse. From jamaica.
The Aqueduct racetrack closed in 1956 and reopened in 1959 after $ 33 million renovations designed by noted track architect Arthur Froehlich. The surface of the race track also changed a few times, the Inner Turf Course which was known as the Main Turf Course, the grass was uprooted after the 1975 races to build the new Inner Dirt Track. After the new facility was built in 1959, off-track gambling was encouraged in New York City to reduce the time the racetrack would remain idle after the end of the racing season.
Aqueduct Racetrack is home to a combination of Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, and Undergraduate races. There is a racing season that runs from the last Wednesday in October to the first Sunday in May. In recent years, races have been held on the Inner Dirt Track from Wednesdays after Thanksgiving to the Wood Memorial. Aqueduct also hosted the Breeders’ Cup, Jockey Club Gold Cup and the prestigious Belmont Stakes on different occasions. The Remsen and Cigar are important races that mark the beginning of the winter meeting; while, the Wood Memorial culminates the winter meeting.
Aqueduct has made horse racing history by being the only site that has had the only triple draw to win in a betting race. In the 1944 Carter Handicap race, Brownie, Bossuet and Wait A Bit finished the line at the same time. In another rare event in an eleven-day racing program at Aqueduct in April 2006, there was a tie for each of the three “money” positions (Win, Place, and Show) in three separate races.
In recent years, there has been news indicating the closure of the Aqueduct racetrack due to losses in the operation of the facility and the increasing falls of Churchill Downs and that it will surely be designated as a National Historic Landmark. Are the two going in different directions?