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The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. But it’s not all cigars, fancy hats, and placing bets. Over its 145 years of being the location of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs has amassed quite a few haunting tales.
From jockeys being trampled, to others mysteriously found dead, Churchill Downs is a recipe for some ghost stories.
Most visitors and even those who work there agree that the museum is the most haunted part of the place. The museum sits on the same land as the old Derby hospital. Injured jockeys would be carted off the track and over to the racetrack’s hospital where many of them would succumb to their injuries. Employees have claimed to have witnessed elevators in the building operating while nobody was around.
Albert Snyder had the mount on 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation. He was celebrating his big break on a fishing trip with friends when a big storm hit and Snyder and two of his friends were never found. After a large manhunt, no trace was ever found of Al Snyder and his two friends. Snyder’s friend Eddie Arcaro got the mount on Citation, and went on to win.
The 1932 Kentucky Derby was known as the “unlucky Derby.” 18-year-old Eugene James won aboard Burgoo King, and it was the first time in history the 13th horse had ever won the race. Since 13 is commonly known as being an unlucky number it was no surprise that not long after his victory, James drowned in Chicago. Furthermore, an injured jockey went delirious during a hospital stay and jumped out of a window to his death.
A jockey by the name of Frank Poretto was killed on the opening day in 1921. It appeared that he was kicked by either his own horse or one passing by. As he struck the ground, he sustained a fracture to the skull without regaining consciousness.
Nowadays you can take a tour of the museum at Churchill Downs and experience the hauntings yourself.
For a tour of Churchill Downs, watch the video below.