Churchill Downs and 20.20 unveil premium fan-centric spaces for the Kentucky Derby

The world famous Kentucky Derby runs once a year at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. And this year, fans flocking to Louisville can look forward to a number of new hospitality spaces underneath the spires of the iconic racing venue.

With just a year before 2016’s Run for the Roses to affect a dramatic change to the existing hospitality experience, Churchill Downs and 20.20 have worked behind the scenes alongside architecture firm Populous to deliver exciting new spaces that heighten the prestige and anticipation of Derby Day for seasoned guests and first-timers alike.

We spent time in the hospitality spaces talking to regular guests and observing their behaviour across seasonal race days. Recognising that The Kentucky Derby attracts a unique mix of hospitality guests – for whom the event is either a lifetime ambition, another day at the track or an opportunity to see and be seen – 20.20 designed a mix of dynamic spaces that celebrate the race’s rich heritage without compromising on the practical considerations of serving thousands of excited sports fans and socialites for one spectacular weekend a year.

The third floor Turf Club is an exclusive, members-only lounge located in the clubhouse section of Churchill Downs, directly overlooking the finish line of the hallowed track. The new space features both intimate and social areas, including a terrace, suite of boxes and The Rose Lounge dining room, which hosts the world’s largest mechanical flip-clock animation that brings the most exciting two minutes in sport to life in all of its colourful, thunderous glory.

Enriched by a wealth of stories stretching from the filly that put Churchill Downs on the map (Regret in 1915) to last year’s Triple Crown victory (American Pharoah in 2015), the Turf Club celebrates The Derby’s special place in the hearts of racing fans everywhere.

The fourth floor of the clubhouse has been refined into one flexible and prestigious suite known as The Stakes Room to host members, thoroughbred owners, trainers and their guests on Derby Day and throughout the racing calendar. With a nod to “The Colonel,” Matt Winn and major stakes race winners over the years; The Stakes Room is a premium and inviting space with a sophisticated and characterful approach to design.

20.20 also designed a Speakeasy and Director’s Lounge with private terrace and meeting room, which form the most exclusive element of the renovation. These invite-only venues provide an exceptional environment for reflection and celebration of races run and races won.

The modernised hospitality spaces at Churchill Downs will debut at the Kentucky Derby on the 7th May. Together, we’ve created spaces that actively enhance the guest experience, maintaining outstanding views of the track and facilitating Derby day’s rich fan traditions – from sporting elaborate hats to sipping mint juleps on the terrace and joining voices for the soaring chorus of My Old Kentucky Home.

“Our number one goal is to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations. 20.20 and the rest of the team have done that by creating spaces that cater to the modern discerning lifestyle, and still deliver 142 years of Kentucky Derby history and tradition.”
Ryan Jordan, general manager at Churchill Downs

We’re listening out for the call to post and wishing all this year’s runners and riders our best wishes for Saturday. Like racing fans around the world watching the day’s events at Churchill Downs, we’re looking forward to feeling like honorary Kentuckians from across the pond.

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