As Louisvillians, we consider Churchill Downs as hallowed ground, where we all go not just for the first Saturday in May, but year-round. Behind the scenes, Catherine Delaney is fervently working so that your experience there is top-notch. As Senior Director of Ticketing, she is THE person to know if you want to go bet on the ponies in style.
What do you do for a living?
I am the Senior Director of Ticketing for Churchill Downs.
You have worked in London, New York and DC in the hotel business. Tell us a little about your experiences there.
I had spent a semester abroad in London and when I was graduating from college, I knew that I wanted to return to work in London. What at the time was just a “fun job” (i.e. pay enough to travel in Europe) actually ended up being a career later. I found the hotel business a great platform to learn a variety of skills including sales, marketing, revenue management, event and catering management, and certainly how to manage people. I have worked for some fantastic companies including Intercontinental, St. Regis and Omni. Of course, the downside is that now when I travel with a family of four, it is a little challenging to always stay 5-Star as I had become accustomed to.
Did you always plan to work in the horse-racing business?
I did move back to Louisville with the plan of working for Churchill Downs, yes. I returned to Louisville as Churchill was starting the major renovation that opened in 2005, so it was fortuitous timing that my experience was perfect for growing a brand new group sales department for Churchill.
What is the best part of your job?
The Kentucky Derby.
What is the worst part of your job?
The Kentucky Derby.
Can you get me tickets to the Derby?
Well, why not? I may certainly assist you in providing an answer on how to purchase tickets. Each year we have worked to change and improve the process for applying to purchase tickets for the Kentucky Oaks and Derby. The process had previously always seemed confusing to the public and as a company, we feel fortunate to always have such demand to meet. However, we are unable to fulfill all of that demand!
Really the easiest answer for our Louisville friends is to utilize the track more than one day out of the year! Join our Season Box program, become a Turf Club member, and finally purchase a Personal Seat License to guarantee seats.
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
I tend to follow the mantra “I’ll Have Another” bringing out my “Funny Cide.” Is that balanced?
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
A positive attitude can take you anywhere, there is absolutely no time for negativity. When facing challenges, I have realized it is all about keeping positive thoughts and it truly helps you to not only succeed, but help others around you to be better persons as well. This is not only in business, but so important at home, too, to show my two sons positive energy always!
Who is your mentor?
Hands down, my mother, Ann Miller. Having lost my father at a very young age, my mother and I were the best of friends from the beginning. I love when I sometimes have to think, “What would Mom do?” and I always find the right solution easily. My mother instilled a sense of independence in me, as well as the sense to always be true to your beliefs.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
I’d like to be a photographer.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I actually grew up riding horses. Not on the racetrack, though. (I have ridden horses that did not make it on the racetrack!) I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ride and compete in show jumping. I actually went to Hollins University to ride for their intercollegiate team.
What is your favorite place to go for dinner?
We are huge Anchorage fans, and we are so fortunate to have The Village Anchor and The Anchorage Cafe . Both include all my favorites and mainly I can have a glass of wine outside while kids get ice cream!
Where do you like to shop?
I like to fancy myself a J. Crew model. Huge fan of the W & M girls for some jewelry.
I feel I should mention my family clearly spends some time at Lilly Pulitzer. My husband, Keith Delaney, will be honoring her once again at both Oaks & Derby. Keith has been interviewed several years in a row for his obnoxious Lilly coats. I mean, his wife only runs the event, yet he gets the fashion coverage?! The nerve!
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself? And what is your weakness?
My weakness is actually that a treat or luxury is never for myself, it is for my boys! I really don’t get to see them much during March or April, and luckily they have not quite figured out that during our brief hours together, they can ask for and receive anything they want!!
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
My favorite things are any choices my 5 year old or 8 year old sons choose to do! Luckily they most often choose to get outside every moment we can, so biking, hiking, camping, exploring our local park system, as well as the fantastic state park system.
Three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends):
What are you reading right now?
What are three of your “favorite” things right now (can be anything).
- We recently adopted a rescue Bassett hound, she is my favorite!
- Pinterest is another favorite, I have discovered some great healthy kid-friendly recipes here!
- Mad Men is back, what a fantastic escape.
Many thanks to one of the busiest women in Louisville this time of year. It was a treat going out to Churchill Downs for a beautiful, quiet, private photo shoot. For more information on the Kentucky Derby, click here.
Beautiful photographs courtesy of our FACES photographer, Adele Reding Studio. For more information on Adele Reding, click here.