GMK on Your Backside: Life on the Backside at Churchill Downs


by Andy Treinen

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 7:52 AM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 8:40 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- If you spend any time around Churchill Downs you realize it's the people that make the stories, and there are a whole lot of people living and working on the Backside far from the bright lights of the Kentucky Derby.

Behind the scenes on the Backside it gets better and better every day, and the crowds get bigger and bigger. But, a normal day on the Backside doesn't look anything like it does at Derby time. It’s actually like a little village.

Did you know there is a Backside Learning Center for workers? Churchill Downs vice president John Asher said nearly 1,400 horses are housed at the track year round and 1,000 to 2,000 workers living and learning on the Backside.

"English as a second language classes are offered here, computer classes are offered here,” he said.

Operated by the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Backside Learning Center is considered a model for race tracks across the country.

The Christ Chapel is also the envy of American horse racing.

Thirteen years ago Ken Boehm began holding worship services in a recreation hall alongside pool tables.

"We went to Churchill management and explained the situation, Churchill understood the situation, graciously allotted this land to us for us to raise funds and build a chapel,” Boehm said.

Now thanks to contributions from the industry and other churches, faith is no longer just behind the scenes  on the Backside 

"Thirty-eight other churches work with us provide all the things that we have here, not only for worship, but a clothing closet, toiletries, a food pantry and then the volunteer staff to man it all,” he said.

Click here for WHAS11's coverage of the 140th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.