Tradition and Culture, Explore the Kentucky Derby on a Riverboat Cruise

River Views™, a River Cruise Blog

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The first weekend of May is an exciting one around Louisville, KY, celebrating the time-honored tradition of the Kentucky Derby. The thoroughbred race has taken place every year since 1875, under the famous twin-spires of Churchill Downs and is preluded by a two-week festival including a large fireworks display over the Ohio River, concerts, hot-air balloon race and Steamboat Race.

The idea of the horse race originated from Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. While travelling to England, he visited the Derby, a renowned race that had ran annually since 1780. Upon returning home to Kentucky, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club to raise money for a racing facility just outside the city. Shortly after, the track became known as Churchill Downs, after John and Henry Churchill who provided the land. Originally, the Kentucky Derby was ran as a 1 1/2 mile race, but changed in 1896 to its current 1 1/4 mile distance. It is the first leg of the prestigious American Triple Crown, which consists of three horse races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

This tradition has spawned many others along with it, to create an exhilarating experience, which attracts many celebrities and public figures. A mint julep - bourbon, simple syrup and mint cocktail – is a famous tradition on race day, as is wearing extravagant headpieces and fashionable attire while gambling on your favorite horse or jockey. Most every spectator in attendance takes part in these traditions on the first Saturday in May, from general admission in the infield or on Millionaire’s Row.

As Louisville is home to our CEO and Chairman, John Waggoner, we wanted to give our guests the special opportunity to join in on the tradition. For the first time, we are offering a Kentucky Derby themed cruise in 2018, which is sure to fill quickly! Guests will have the chance to celebrate in appropriate style aboard the lavish American Duchess, discovering an abundance of time-honored traditions and new surprises at each port of call. The thrill of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs can be yours with a premium Derby Day ticket package, affording you the rare opportunity to experience the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” along with other related events leading up to the big race.

Join in on the fun and reserve your spot on our Kentucky Derby cruise! We’d love to have you, and share in this sensational southern tradition.