Churchill Downs® Superstitions. Fact or Myth?

Posted by Kristen Doolan on Tue, Jun 20, 2017

In 1875, Churchill Downs® opened its gates and has had many historic moments since. As many avid horse racing fans know, Churchill Downs® hosts one of the most popular races of the year, the Kentucky Derby®. Along with its proud history and long lists of iconic winners, comes years of built up traditions and superstitions. Below we will delve into some of those superstitions. What do you believe?

The Iconic Lucky Charm: Horseshoes

There are several different stories floating around about the origins of a horseshoes’ luck, but no matter how it all got started it has been a positive mojo symbol for hundreds of years. And believe you me, there are no shortage of horseshoes at Churchill Downs®.

Originally made of iron due to the belief of mystical and magnetic capabilities to keep fairies and witches away, horseshoes still take the same of mix metals from iron to aluminum to ward off evil. Even the number of holes in the horseshoe is deemed to be lucky, as seven is one of the luckiest numbers and appears frequently in nature elements such as the seven seas, continents or days of the week.

Lastly, it’s all about how you hang the horseshoe and frankly many disagree on this point. You can either hang it prong-side up to keep in the good luck or prong-side down to flow the good luck on to anyone that passes underneath. If you take a walk around the Paddock area at Churchill Downs® during the Kentucky Derby® you will see if some of the most legendary trainers and jockeys can’t agree.

Drawing Post Positions

As many say, it’s all up to “the luck of the draw.” Churchill Downs® has used a combination of two starting gates for the Kentucky Derby® since 1930, allowing 20 horses to run in the race. Many trainers and jockeys alike believe that your post position often determines your ability to be wearing roses at the end of the race. Drawn at random, many see it as a test of fate. Here are some fast facts about post positions:

  • Since 2000, 9 of the 17 winners have come out of gate of 13 or higher
  • Gate 1 hasn’t seen a Kentucky Derby® since Ferdinand in 1986
  • Since 1988, posts 1, 2 and 3 have 1.1% win rate
  • Gate 17 is the only gate to have not produced a winner

For more post position superstitions see here:

Betting Quirks

You don’t think about horse racing without thinking about wagering. Churchill Downs® is filled with live tellers and betting machines, to help you get your bet in for each race during the Kentucky Derby® weekend. Here are just a few things that people say to look out for, or it might ruin your luck.

  • You need to buy your own Race Form
  • Put your ticket in between your cash to attract more money
  • Never take a $50 bill from a teller
  • Don’t cash your winning in until the end of the day
  • Use the same clerk or same machine throughout the day

Find out Fact or Myth at the 2018 Kentucky Derby®

The only true way to test a superstition is to be there in person! Join Derby Experiences, the Official Partner of Churchill Downs®, for a trip of a lifetime to the 2018 Kentucky Derby®. With many different seating options from Grandstand to Clubhouse to Premium, exclusive party access and hospitality venues located inside the track, we truly offer a package that will fit you and your group.

Explore 2018 Derby Experiences Packages