And they’re off … for a day of fun and excitement when students visit the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Student groups are treated to an up-close and personal view of the unique celebration known worldwide as the “greatest two minutes in sports.”
“The museum presents the Kentucky Derby as a lens through which students can explore topics in social studies, math, science and sports,” said Jennifer Riddell, group sales manager. Students learn how horse racing fits into the broader context of Kentucky’s cultural horse heritage and of sports in America. Students hold onto their derby hats as they view the thrilling film, The Greatest Race. Reimagined and updated with the latest audio-visual technology, the high-definition footage is projected larger-than-life in one of the world’s only 360-degree, 4K theaters.
On the 30-minute, guided walking tour of historic Churchill Downs Racetrack, students have the opportunity to see the iconic grounds — and a few behind-the-scenes sites. “Guides share the traditions and the experience of Derby Day as they recount past Derby winners and the rich history of this location,” Riddell said. Visitors walk through the property to the paddock and out to the grandstand, learning fun facts along the way. “The guides are energetic, engaging and here because of their love of horses,” Riddell said. “Many have a personal connection to Churchill Downs and the Derby.”
From Millionaires Row to the home stretch, students develop a new appreciation for the event that stops the nation on the first Saturday in May. “When students turn on the television to view the race, they now have a personal connection to the track and can share with family and friends what a Triple Crown means,” Riddell said. Educators select from one of the museum’s age-appropriate, core-curriculum-driven Education Programs to provide a theme as students experience two floors of interactive exhibits. Students might explore the economic impact of the Derby by examining the influx of jobs and the hospitality industry. “The programs are designed so the learning can continue in students’ classrooms,” Riddell said. Before leaving, be sure to “jockey” for a photograph in the museum’s winner’s circle as a memory of the visit. Educational groups receive discounted rates. Dining options include pre-arranged box lunches and the delicious Kentucky Buffet. The museum and walking tour are handicap accessible. Complimentary motorcoach parking is available.