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Photo of horses racing on the track at the Kentucky Derby
First turn of the Kentucky Derby race, 1995

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Churchill Downs
A Local Legacy

Name America's most famous horse race. If you said the Kentucky Derby, you'd be right! But do you know where the race is held? Every year since 1875, this race has been held at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky.

Horse breeding and racing are extremely popular in Kentucky. Horse racing in Louisville dates back to 1789, when races were held down Market Street. During a trip abroad in 1872-1873, 26-year-old Colonel M. Lewis Clark came up with a plan to create the Louisville Jockey Club for conducting race meets, after meeting with prominent racing leaders in France and England. When he returned, Clark developed a racetrack, which would become known as Churchill Downs and would showcase Kentucky's breeding industry.

The Kentucky Derby, held the first Saturday in May, is the first "leg," or competition, of horse racing's "Triple Crown." Can you name the other two races? They are the Preakness Stakes in Maryland and the Belmont Stakes in New York.

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