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- More than Just a Horse Race: ‘Derby Week’ Can Make the Perfect Vacation Destination for Almost Any Family -


LOUISVILLE, KY. (XX) – With spring in the air, thoughts of a quick vacation getaway come to mind.  And a great place to take an exciting and fun-filled vacation is at Kentucky Derby 135, scheduled for the first weekend of May.   


“As the longest, continuously held sporting event, the Kentucky Derby is a part of Americana and something that is on many people’s lifetime ‘to-do’ lists,” said Churchill Downs Incorporated chief marketing officer, Dave Tompkins. “Over the years, the Kentucky Derby has evolved from a weekend of racing to a week-long, tremendously diverse entertainment experience with something for everyone.  And the ability to buy tickets online ( this year allows Derby-goers to plan ahead to attend parties, charity events, concerts, and two days of premium horse racing under Churchill Downs’ famous Twin Spires.  It’s easier than ever to build an exciting mini-vacation around a trip to the Derby.”


In this economy, many Americans are looking for more ‘daycation’ options – vacations that don’t take them too far from home – and Derby Week is the perfect mix of excitement and affordability.  In fact, according to Lisa Haller, the executive director of sales and marketing for the official Louisville hotel of Churchill Downs, the Galt House, for the first time in many years, you can still find a hotel room at attractive rates. Some hotels, like the Galt House, are also offering incentives with their packages around Derby, such as VISA gift cards, making it the giveaway that gives back.  


Derby week in Louisville culminates with a fantastic horse race, but the lead up to the ‘Greatest Two Minutes in Sports’ includes many exciting and affordable activities perfect for a romantic getaway or a fun family vacation,” said Stacey Yates, vice president of communications for the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There is an entire week of festivities coordinated by the nonprofit Kentucky Derby Festival in addition to a wide variety of area entertainment options including the Louisville Zoo, amusement parks,  Museum Row, eclectic shopping, premier golf courses and the Urban Bourbon Trail. In Louisville it’s possible to have a unique and affordable vacation all year and during the added excitement of Derby week, it’s the perfect destination.”

The Kentucky Derby Festival takes place during the two weeks leading up to Derby Day and offers more than 70 events – many of them free, with the purchase of a $4 Pegasus Pin ( The Festival starts with a spectacular riverfront air show and the largest fireworks display in the United States. Thunder Over Louisville typically draws more than half a million people to downtown Louisville and kicks off the Derby countdown with a bang. For sports fans there is basketball, volleyball, rowing and golf. For music lovers the concerts are almost non-stop. Other highlights include a half and full marathon, hot-air balloon events and parades.


Churchill Downs, home of America’s most famous horse race, also offers a full schedule of special events, starting with the track’s 2009 opening day on April 25.  Fans of the late 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro will gather to unveil and dedicate his larger-than-life-sized bronze statue and memorial on Sunday, April 26, and will have a chance to connect with the horse’s owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, at a special reception that morning at the adjacent Kentucky Derby Museum ( Friday, May 1, brings Kentucky Oaks 135 and the “pinking” of Churchill Downs for a special day of events and activities with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® survivors and supporters.  Another special guest at Oaks and Derby this year will be Bravo’s Emmy Award-winning “Top Chef.” On May 1-2, Top Chef: The Tour will be a part of Churchill Down’s new Infield Club hospitality area, which allows Derby and Oaks guests to enjoy the exuberant party atmosphere of the traditional infield with an upgraded twist. Top Chef: The Tour will provide numerous live cooking demonstrations for Infield Club guests, while also offering interactive contests, information kiosks, and an opportunity for Infield Club guests to interact with the “chef’testants.”


For more information about Derby week activities at Churchill Downs, visit


Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009.  The track’s 2009 Spring Meet will take place from April 25 through July 5.  Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010.  Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at

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