Churchill Downs & Kentucky Oaks

If going to the Kentucky Derby is on your bucket list, I encourage you to find a way to make it happen. Everything about the event is filled with “E’s”; Energy, Excitement and Exhilaration. From the crowds to the horses, it’s undeniably a unique experience.

Pure Leaf Booth at Kentucky Derby

Pure Leaf Iced Tea Booth

On Friday May 4th, after a stop at the Pure Leaf Iced Tea Taste Challenge booth, we headed to the other side of the track for a tour.

Churchill Downs Twin Spires

Name plaques for Winners

This was a really neat thing to do during our trip with Pure Leaf, as the tour took us to places at Churchill Downs , most of the public never gets to see personally.

We started off in the paddock. That’s right I said IN the paddock! While the general public has access to look at the paddock behind walls and rails, we got to go in the paddock area and see exactly where the owners, trainers, jockeys and horses start their races.

Churchill Downs paddock

Kentucky Derby Paddock

We also got to see the jockeys and horses come through the area after they had raced. Not surprisingly, they get a little dirty!

Jockeys in Churchill Downs paddock

Here’s the Winner’s Circle for every race, except the Derby race.

Churchill Downs Winner Circle

We then preceded through the tunnel and to the area of where the rich and famous can often be found:) Standing on the balcony we got some great picture opportunities of the garden and paddock area, the twin spires, as well as the crowds that arrived that day (to the tune of 112,000 people!).

Crowds at Kentucky Oaks 2012

Churchill Downs Garden

Balcony Spire Churchill Downs

A quick walk through Millionaire’s Row where you might see celebrities such as Cindy Lauper or Kate Flannery, led us to this absolutely incredible glass sculpture of Churchill Downs. The detail is phenomenal right down to the attendees in the stands and the horses on the track.

glass Churchill Downs

Glass Horses Churchill Downs

Walking back to our grandstand seats, we got to see the jockey and trainer murals on the walls of the clubhouse painted by French artist Peb Bellocq.

Peb Bellocq jockey mural

Now it’s time to watch the races including the 138th running of the Kentucky Oaks!

Kentucky Oaks 2012 ticket

Kentucky Oaks starting gates

bringing the horses into the starting gate

Churchill Downs horse race

I did some virtual betting in my head on Kentucky Oaks day…good thing too because the two horses I was rooting for in one particular race, June Cleaver and Miz Ida…didn’t win, place or show…

It was a hot day, with plenty of sun, my Pure Leaf Iced Tea got a little warm by mid-afternoon!

Pure Leaf Iced Tea bottle

And then…a rain delay. The infield was evacuated and the rain fell, but it was just for a while and then they were off running again.

History was made at the 2012 Kentucky Oaks, with Rosie Napravnik being the first female jockey to capture the Oaks riding ‘Believe You Can’. I guess she believed enough!

So now that all of us Derby Virgins had a day at Churchill Downs under our belt (and a few Mint Juleps!) – we were well prepared for the next day for the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby!

I was invited to participate in a taste immersion experience with Pure Leaf, for which they provided full travel expenses, meals and accommodations and other premiums, however my opinions are completely my own and I have not been compensated to publish positive or negative reviews of the event or products associated with my experience.