Wyn Experiences

2017 Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby is unlike any other sporting event! With a crowd of more than 150,000 people, unparalleled history and tradition and its unique spectacle, the Kentucky Derby has been described by Forbes as one of the "Greatest Bucket-list Sporting Events" in America. Every year, on the first Saturday in May, thousands of guests gather under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs to create lifelong memories with their friends and family. Constructed in 1895, the Twin Spires were the creation of a 24-year-old draftsman, Joseph Dominic Baldez, who was asked to draw the blueprints for Churchill Downs' new grandstand. Originally the plans did not include the Twin Spires atop Churchill Downs' roofline, but as the young Baldez continued work on his design, he felt the structure needed something to give it a striking appearance. Described as towers in the original drawing, the hexagonal spires exemplify late 19th century architecture, in which symmetry and balance took precedence over function. Although Baldez designed many other structures in Louisville, the Twin Spires remain as an everlasting monument to his memory. Former Churchill Downs President Matt J. Winn is reported to have told Baldez, "Joe when you die there's one monument that will never be taken down, the Twin Spires." Each year, a garland of more than 400 red roses is sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth on one end and the Twin Spires and number of the race's current renewal on the other. Each garland is also adorned with a "crown" of roses, green fern and ribbon. The "crown," a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to reach the Derby Winner's Circle. One of the first celebrity sightings dates to 1877 when famed Polish actress Helena Modjeska attended the third running of the Kentucky Derby. In the 1945 book, Down the Stretch, it was noted that Modjeska was impressed by the Kentucky Derby but even more charmed by the mint julep to which she was introduced by Churchill Downs founder M. Lewis Clark following the race. Over the years, a stream of celebrities from film, television, music, sports, politics, publishing, fashion and corporate America have been drawn to the Kentucky Derby. On at least one occasion, a celebrity with a more notorious background was the talk of the Derby. The 15th renewal in 1889 brought bank and train robber Frank James to Louisville. The brother of famed outlaw Jesse James and a leader in their outlaw gang, Frank was on hand to watch Spokane take the victory over favored Proctor Knott. In 2007, Churchill Downs initiated a new Kentucky Derby tradition with a celebrity focus by creating a special Red Carpet entrance for VIP attendees and their guests. Kentucky Derby broadcast partner NBC provided televised coverage of the Derby Red Carpet arrivals, giving fans around the globe a chance to see the rich and famous make their way into the world's most legendary racetrack. THE KENTUCKY DERBY

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