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Churchill Downs Racetrack Guide USA

Churchill Downs logoThe Churchill Downs racetrack is one of America’s most famous horse racing tracks. The Horseplayers Association of North America ranked it at number 22 in 2014. Churchill Downs racing is a popular feature on the US horse racing industry calendar, and betting on them has made many people rich.

Located at Central Avenue in South Louisville, Kentucky, Churchill Downs is a racetrack for thoroughbred horse racing. Officially opened in 1875, the racetrack holds up to 170,000 spectators for Churchill Downs live racing. The twin spires on top of the grandstand makes Churchill Downs racetrack immediately recognizable and they’ve been used as a symbol for its most popular race, the Kentucky Derby. Furthermore, this racetrack hosted the Breeders’ Cup nine times, most recently in November 2018.

The track has a flat one-mile dirt main track. Also, it has a turf track inside the main track that’s 7/8 mile long.

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What you’ll find in this Churchill Downs guide:

Churchill Downs Schedule and Events

The Churchill Downs schedule is active in Spring and Fall. The Spring meet starts in late April, a week before its biggest racing event – the Kentucky Derby – and ends in early July. The second Fall Churchill Downs schedule starts in late October and ends Thanksgiving weekend in late November.

Churchill Downs Schedule of Notable Events

During open season, the racetrack has races from Wednesday through to Saturday. While it also has live racing every weekend in June.

The most notable races on the 2020 Churchill Downs schedule include:

  • Kentucky Derby Week Opening Night: April 25
  • Longines Kentucky Oaks: May 1
  • Preakness Watch Party: May 16
  • Downs After Dark: September 19

Popular Churchill Bets

Betting on racing events at the Churchill Downs is both exciting as you get to experience the old-world glamour of horse racing meets, coupled with the prospect of winning huge sums of cash.

If you’re too busy or, frankly, can’t afford to drive all the way to Louisville to bet on the Churchill Downs live racing, you still can take part in the betting action. With the rise of online sports betting, US-friendly online sportsbooks offer betting on Churchill races. Let’s take a look at the most popular types of horse bets bettors at Churchill Downs like to take part in. Moreover, you aren’t necessarily limited to just these bets. If you find others that peak your interest and you feel like you’ll be luck with them, take a shot at them.

Win-Place-Show Bet

When it comes to Churchill Downs betting, the win-place-show bet is fun and easy to make.

  • The win bet is about picking the runner that will win the race.
  • Secondly, betting on which horse will place is betting on the top two. You’ll win the bet if your horse finishes first or second.
  • A show bet is wagering on which horse will finish in the top three. So, if your runner comes first, second, or third, you win the wager.

Note that the win wager is the hardest to get right. Therefore, this makes it the bet with the highest payout if you do pick the right horse.

Aerial view of Churchill Downs racetrack

Exacta Bet

This type of horse bet is for the more seasoned horse bettor. It’s more difficult than the win-place-show bet and therefore has a higher payout.

An exacta bet involves you picking a minimum of two horses to finish in first or second order, in that exact order. If this is too difficult, you can put your bet in an exacta box. A boxed bet wins if your horses finish first or second in any order this time. An exacta box makes you winning an exacta bet more likely.

Trifecta Bet

The trifecta bet is also for the more experienced horse bettor. It’s more difficult to win than the above-mentioned bets because you have to correctly get the first three places in their exact order.

Like with the exacta bet, you can also place this bet in a trifecta box. It gives you more leeway for mistakes – guess the first three horses in any order and your bet wins.

Read more guides on the most popular racetracks in America below:

Churchill Racetrack Picks: How to Pick a Horse

If you’re attending a Churchill Downs live racing event, or just looking at a copy of the day’s program online, you’ll to know what you’re looking at. You’ll need to know how to read a horse racing program and read racing. This falls into the larger part of knowing how to pick a horse.

Our expert horse racing enthusiasts have given some of their top tips on how to do so.

  • Firstly, how to read a horse racing program. This program has all the information to help you pick a horse and make good wagers. A program will have an outline of each horse running in the race. this information will be very detailed, and include its odds of winning, its exercise program, race history, jockey and other important information.
  • Secondly, listen to what the experts are saying. Follow horse racing experts on social media, find a horse racing website that’s trustworthy, and keep an eye on what they are saying about the horses.
  • Thirdly, watch the horses on the day, if you’re at the track or watching the race live through streaming or on TV. Watch their body language – does it look alert and confidents or nervous and inattentive? Also, check if the horse looks healthy – is its coat nice and shiny; does it have good muscle definition?

Visiting a racetrack as famous as Churchill Downs is ultimately about having fun and making a bit of money on the side. Dress up, enjoy yourself, and create some fond memories.

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