Take a tour through the Backside at Churchill Downs
Take a rare look at what everyone doesn't see at Churchill Downs
Thousands of fans pack the grandstand at Churchill Downs Derby week to dress to the 9's, sip mint juleps and hopefully pick a winning horse.
But it's a different story on the backside. Here's a rare look what life is like on the other side of the track.
Before the sun shines bright on our Old Kentucky Home, life on the backside has been buzzing for several hours. Grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders and trainers start preparing for the day around four in the morning.
Barry Northern is a tour guide at the Kentucky Derby Museum and knows the inner workings of the tight knit community.
"Every day, you exercise them, feed them, give them a bath, cleanup after them and do laundry for them. That never changes. Children can hopefully take care of themselves down the line, horses never can."
This area of historic Churchill Downs is not the place to see and be seen. No fancy hats here; just work boots and weathered hands.
"I've been around here all my life, but I couldn't come on the backside. Now that I can, I appreciate the animals more than I have. But, more than anything, I appreciate how hard these people work."
Closed to the public, the backside is where many of the workers call home for a few months out of the year. More than 600 workers live in dorms when the horses are running at Churchill.
"There is a male dorm and a female dorm and some even live above the barns."
In peak season, 14-hundred horses are stabled at the backside. The backside is little functioning city. It has a restaurant where many workers eat lunch after a long morning. There's a church where people can reflect, study and worship. It even has a learning center where Hispanic workers can learn English, get help filing a tax return and checkout a book to read.
"They will put a on a soccer game in the infield for a little entertainment. They just have so many things here to help these people. They are away from their families so Churchill provides a lot of things to make it a more enjoyable experience."
There's also a media area where local TV stations and radio stations work to cover the sights and sounds of Derby week. Our small tent is not glamorous but it helps us bring you live coverage on WDRB in the Morning. And if you are lucky enough to get invited to the backside by a trainer or horse owner, please be courteous to the workers and horses. Remember, you are a guest in their workspace.