10:25 a.m. EDT April 27, 2016

As Churchill Downs nears the end of $18 million in renovations to a number of its premium seating and lounge areas, the Central Avenue track offered a glimpse inside them Tuesday to local media. Called the “Clubhouse Enhancements Project,” improvements were made across 82,000 square feet and bumped reserved seating capacity 41 percent, from 1,886 to 2,660. Total reserved seating at Churchill on Kentucky Derby Day will this year be 58,654.

“We’ve really tried to celebrate the history of horse racing at Churchill Downs and the Thoroughbred industry,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill’s racetrack operations. “You’ll see a lot of prints and accent points that are sort of hidden treasures in this new construction.

Here’s what stood out from the tour…

Stakes Room: Churchill’s fourth-floor premium area previously consisted of four rooms. Now it has been opened up, and “during the year we have a lot of opportunities for just the average person around town who wants to come out for a day of racing,” Flanery said. The centerpiece is the “Over the Top Bar.” It pays homage to Derby winners Donerail, Old Rosebud and Regret, who from 1913-1915 former Churchill president Matt Winn said made the race what it is today — or put it over the top. Etched into the bar, which is shaped like the race track, are quarter poles.

Turf Club: The track caught HGTV and Food Network fever in transforming this third-floor space into an open concept, well-lit area where food will be prepared in front of guests. A new pizza oven and massive rotisserie are on hand with meals prepared by a chef. Flanery said he expects “five times more service” to get guests food and drink faster. The turf club’s boxes have transformed from the typical green-railed spaces to white-walled booths with electronic charging stations.

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