Behind the Scenes of Churchill Downs


Caroline Washle and Madeline Renn

When you think of the track here in Louisville, Kentucky, you picture dresses, hats, lillies and fillies, mint juleps, and millionaires row. However, the backside of Churchill Downs strays far from these fancy traditions of Derby and Oaks.

The backside of the racetrack consist of stables, mud, boots, jeans, and more mud. It is the place where you can find trainers, jockey homes, owners, race horses, and race fans that decide to not take the traditional route of watching races.

Here at the backside, you can physically stand on the track and witness races firsthand. Instead of boxes and seat back chairs, there are bleachers. Instead of mint juleps, lillies, and city famous food, you can bring a cooler full of your own refreshments and snacks. Instead of hectic betting stations, there are around only four betting windows throughout the backside.

Everything that goes on at the backside of Churchill Downs is everything that goes behind horse racing. Many trained race horses occupy the stables among the grounds and each stable is owned or shared by professional horse owners and trainers. The horses here are undressed and in their pure state meaning there are no jockeys and no saddles. Horses are brought over to the paddock straight out of their stables and are prepared for racing in the stalls of the paddock.

Spectator Becky Washle experienced the behind the scenes Saturday night.

“It is so interesting… Being in a box or near the paddock will never give you an experience like this,” Washle explained.

For a more in depth and hands on experience with horse racing, the backside of Churchill Downs is the place to be.