LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Thoroughbred Society, a members-only club downtown, is gearing up to celebrate its first Kentucky Derby after opening in March.
The private club on East Main Street is a space dedicated to celebrating the horse racing industry and the Louisville community. The open space has multiple bars, a rooftop terrace, a full dining room, lounge areas, a cigar pavilion and more.
"The moment that those elevator doors open, they say, ‘We can't believe that this is here! That this is in Louisville?!’ This is what Louisville has been waiting for,” said Erica Outlaw, general manager of the Louisville Thoroughbred Society.
The club is dripping with custom details, artwork and nods to the horse racing industry. Work on what was the old “Hughes Lofts” started in 2019 in order to transform the space into the exclusive club. Think of it as a premium turf club without the race track.
Louisville Thoroughbred Society boasts rare bourbons, cigars, an extensive wine list, a unique culinary experience and, of course, betting.
“The ability to do onsite wagering here is huge, and that’s one of the biggest draws that we’ve had to the club,” Outlaw said.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved Churchill Downs’ request in 2019 to place 12 self-service simulcasting terminals at the club.
The original goal was to open ahead of the 2020 Kentucky Derby, but the COVID-19 pandemic clearly delayed that.
“And then we also had a fire to top it off, an electrical fire," Outlaw said. "So we've really been through a lot of challenges. No pun intended, but we’re coming to the finish line now, and Derby is our time to show off what we’ve built here."
The club finally opened to its members on March 17, and it has been growing membership ever since. Outlaw said that they are just more than halfway to their membership goal and expect to hit that before the end of the year.
Members must pay initiation fees and annual dues. The club created four different membership levels to allow more opportunities for people to join, including one that targets a younger crowd.
“We have a young professional membership, which is really, really popular right now," Outlaw said. "And we really want to engage the young professionals and bring in that younger demographic and that younger spirit into the club."
The LTS team started a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in order to make sure no one feels unwelcome or excluded from membership opportunities.
“We really want to engage every demographic, every age group, every race, every gender," Outlaw said. "So we are proactively trying to diversify our membership."
The club has plans in the works for its members wanting to celebrate Oaks and Derby away from the track. And there is a Hangover Brunch planned for this Sunday. Outlaw said there are more events planned for the year, especially as more people show interest in getting out of the house.
“We have a lot on the calendar, and as a member, you get access to the calendar and you get first right of refusal to these events," Outlaw said. "It's so nice to see people in the community wanting to gather again. And we're kind of growing with the city of Louisville as Louisville starts to grow back and revitalize. And we're proud to be part of that with the city."
To learn more about LTS or to apply to become a member, click here.
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