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This week’s ‘Off to the Races’ special section salutes one of sports’ most revered events. We recently headed to Louisville (pronounced ‘LOU-uh-vull’ by the locals, who call themselves ‘Louisvillians’) to see for ourselves what the fuss surrounding the Kentucky Derby is all about.

To give you an idea of what happens at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, here are some numbers: There can be as many as 1,450 horses in the stalls versus 165,000-plus human spectators (that’s 114 people per horse). And insiders at Churchill Downs tell us that there always will be lines for the three Bs: betting, beverage and bathrooms. The record amount of wagers on the race card is $187 million; and spectators consume 175,000 mint juleps—which, of course, almost always leads to a bathroom break.

But as you’ll see, there is more to Louisville than the Derby. The city has been recognized for being a top travel and foodie destination, among other accolades. Indeed, Louisville has a flavor and texture of its own, and it was a joy to discover. Lucky for us St. Louisans, it’s only a 4-hour drive away.