Why do many horse racing tracks include “downs” in their names?

According to the encyclopedia website Britannica.com, the term downs dates to around 1500, when races in Great Britain and Ireland were held on grassy plains before racetracks existed. These grassy areas were known as downs, because they were low points where water would collect.

Today many famous racetracks such as Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, and Epson Downs in the U.K., as well as many smaller racecourses, use the term to claim a bit of the sport’s long heritage.