Churchill Downs wishes to congratulate 2009 "American Idol" winner Kris Allen, who became the series' eighth winner on Wednesday after defeating Adam Lambert in the competition's final voting round. Allen, a 23-year-old from Conway, Ark., was one of thousands of "Idol" hopefuls who made his way through the auditions in Louisville, Ky. He received his ticket to Hollywood after a final audition in front of the famous "Idol" judges in the Churchill Downs Turf Club last fall.

Allen was among the hundreds of contestants who visited Churchill Downs in September 2008 for the final round of local auditions. On Sept. 5, the contestants arrived early to prepare for their meeting with the judges, and it was during those warmups that Churchill employee Jennifer Stevens saw him and snapped a photograph of the eventual "Idol" champion, which can be seen at left. The photo was available on both the Churchill Downs Web site and CCN at the time, long before anyone could have guessed the heights of success to which Allen would rise.

Thanks again to all of the Churchill employees whose hard work and dedication helped make American Idol's experience under the Twin Spires a successful and memorable one.

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