The Halo Of Old Age: Churchill Downs Ancient as American Race Tracks Go.; Sixtieth Kentucky Derby to Add Another Festoon of Glory to Old Track, Built in 1875., Daily Racing Form, 1934-05-05


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THE HALO OF OLD AGE Churchill Downs Ancient as Amer ¬ ican Race Tracks Go Sixtieth Kentucky Derby to Add An ¬ other Festoon of Glory to Old Track Built in 1875 LOUISVILLE Ky May 4 Ancient as race tracks in America go Churchill Downs has become in the last score of years the focal point of the eyes of a nation on every May day that the Kentucky Derby has been run Every beam in its old stands creaking with the reverberations set up by the shouts of the multitude from fiftynine Derbys that have passed into history have left their mark like barnacles upon the old track Nevertheless it has all of the modern con ¬ veniences less the nickel trimmings of the showplace tracks of the country such as Arlington Downs and Belmont Park ParkWhile While it may lack many of the facilities of these vast modern tracks Churchill Downs has something they both lack the patina which comes with age and which makes the old things dear to the heart heartNo No other race in the country is like the Kentucky Derby Derby day means car ¬ nival time for lovers of the thoroughbred horse from all points of the land and Churchill Downs is mecca ancient Churchill Downs the old track which was established in 1875 and which beams down upon the thousands that fight and push their way through her gates every Derby day like pilgrims visiting the birthplace of Mo ¬ hammed hammedEach Each year that Derby veterans return they find something new to add to their comfort but to their eyes Churchill Downs remains the same the Derby track for the outlines of the old buildings never change The cupolas along her shallow long sweep ¬ ing stand are the same as a quarter of a century ago agoRACING RACING IN DOLDRUMS DOLDRUMSRacing Racing was in the doldrums in this coun ¬ try when Col M Lewis Clark founded the Louisville Jockey Club in 1875 Only a half dozen race tracks of any consequence exist ¬ ed in the country The East boasted of Jerome and Monmouth Parks and Saratoga and the middle west had only Lexington The South pointed with pride to the tracks at New Orleans and Nashville Of all the tracks existing when Churchill Downs was built only Lexington and Saratoga remain and neither can point to an unbroken suc ¬ cession of years with annual meetings meetingsThe The first building completed was the club ¬ house The course was constructed at the same time but the grandstand was left to the last Colonel Clark visited England the cradle of racing for ideas on how to operate race tracks and for additional ideas on at ¬ tractive races racesThus Thus Churchill Downs came into being in 1875 It was named for John and Henry Churchill with the Downs added after famous Epsom Downs in England The Derby was taken from the Epsom Derby with Kentucky preceding it to complete the name The Downs the Derby and the thor ¬ oughbred EnglandAfter all came from England After Colonel Clarks return from Eng ¬ land the Louisville Jockey Club had suffi ¬ cient money on hand to complete the course and clubhouse but the grand stand was a financial difficulty Of the original capital stock of the jockey club only 32000 was ever paid in the greater majority of it in single shares of stock which carried with Continued on seventh page THE HALO OF OLD AGE Continued from first page them membership in the club and admitted the owner to the grounds on race days daysMaj Maj W H Thomas a leading merchant of Louisville made possible the building of the grandstand by advancing sufficient money to the jockey club to build the stand which was located along what is now the back stretch The money loaned by Major Thomas also enabled the club to build enough stables to take care of the horses which took part in the first meeting meetingMay May 17 will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the opening of the first meeting at Churchill Downs The first race ever run over the old track was a mile and a quarter affair the same distance over which the six ¬ tieth Derby will be run tomorrow It was won by William Cottrills Bonaventure rid ¬ den by Billy Lakeland LakelandThe The first score of years under the manage ¬ ment of Colonel Clark saw Churchill Downs gain fame as a racing center but it did not thrive and prosper in a financial way for only one dividend of 10 per cent was paid during the first twenty years What money the track earned was put back into improve ¬ ments mentsThe The Kentucky Derby was inaugurated on the first day of the first meeting The dis tance was one mile and a half and it re ¬ mained at that distance up to 1895 with Halma the final winner before it was cut down to the present route of one mile and a quarter Halma later sired AlanaDale to be the first winner of the Derby to sire a winner winnerAncient Ancient Churchill Downs dear to the hearts of Derby fans Fiftynine years have passed since its gates were first opened Fiftynine years of tradition which have festooned the rafters of the stands with glory as another field for the Kentucky Derby prances and paws at the starting gate Changes have occurred improvements here improvements there such as the starting gate but the foundation is the same and Churchill Downs on Derby day is the capital of the nation and the shrine of King Horse

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