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Churchill Downs announces plans for 150th Kentucky Derby

Syndication: The Courier-Journal

Churchill Downs’ sign maker Todd Herl and Justin Vessels from the Downs’ maintenance staff change out the sign from 2022 to 2023 at Churchill Downs on Monday, April 17, 2023. Changing out the sign between the spires is an annual tradition at the race course before each Derby. Derbysign04

Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Churchill Downs is planning a series of celebrations and fan experiences leading up to the milestone 150th Kentucky Derby in May 2024.

The track rolled out a new website that included the official Kentucky Derby 150 logo.

Horse racing’s marquee event for 3-year-old thoroughbreds is the first jewel of the Triple Crown, as well as the United States’ longest continually run sporting event since 1875. The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the 2020 Derby from its traditional spot on the first Saturday in May for the first time since 1945; instead, it was run on Sept. 5, 2020, without spectators.

In May 2021, attendance was limited to 52,000 but by last spring, 147,294 watched in person as 81-1 long shot Rich Strike pulled off a stunning upset.

The track expects another huge crowd for the 149th Derby on May 6.

Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson said in a statement he is excited about the track’s subsequent plans to mark the race’s landmark anniversary and rich history of “tradition, hospitality and the best horse racing in the world.”

The events will unfold with the track undergoing major improvements.

A $200 million renovation of the paddock behind the main grandstand began after last spring’s race, with completion expected by the 2024 Derby. The project will more than double the size of the horses’ walking ring and add 3,600 seats and 3,250 standing-room spaces.

Other changes to the track include premium club spaces, dining tables and rail boxes, plus new viewing areas.