Edwardian Kentucky Derby Hats
When I think of Churchill Downs, naturally I think of beautiful Kentucky Derby Hats! However, we all know that Kentucky Derby Hats are only the tip of the iceberg of the grandness of what we call the Kentucky Derby. In 2007, even Queen Elizabeth of the UK attended the Kentucky Derby wearing a beautiful designer hat. Here's a little of history lesson...Kentucky has been a major center of horse breeding and racing since the late 1700s due to the Ordovician fields of the Bluegrass region, which contains higher than average amounts of calcium and thus produced superior race horses. In 1872, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, traveled to England, visiting the Epsom Derby, a famous race that had been running annually since 1780. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where in 1863, a group of racing enthusiasts had formed the French Jockey Club and had organized the Grand Prix de Paris, which eventually became the famous Prix de l' Arc de Triomphe. Returning home to Kentucky, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club for the purpose of raising money to build quality racing facilities just outside of the city. The track would soon become known as Churchill Downs, named for Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.'s relatives, John and Henry Churchill, who had provided the land for the racetrack. Officially, the racetrack was incorporated as Churchill Downs in 1937. The Kentucky Derby was first run at 1.5 miles (2.4 km), the same distance as the Epsom Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris. In 1896, the distance was changed to its current 1.25 miles (2.01 km).