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Spring Meet's Final Week Features "Downs After Dark" Racing, Stakes Races, "Fan Appreciation Day"
While some of us might still be working to recover from the memorable celebrations of the 140th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), the calendar has rolled on Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 38-day Spring Meet and the track moves into its last four racing days on Thursday, June 26.
The remaining exciting sessions of the Spring Meet include Friday’s “Downs After Dark Presented by Finlandia Vodka and Stella Artois” party with its “Rockin’ in the USA” theme and a special “thank you” to fans on Sunday’s “Fan Appreciation Day” that offers $1 food and drink specials on the meet’s closing day.
The final Spring Meet racing week opens with a nine-race program on Thursday, June 26 with post time for the first race set for 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT). That same post time is set for the Saturday and Sunday programs, with Friday’s “Downs After Dark,” which has a 6 p.m. first post with admission gates set to open at 4 p.m., being the only exception during the meet’s final four days.
The “Rockin’ in the USA” theme of Friday’s last “Downs After Dark” celebration suggests a denim and Americana wardrobe with lots of red, white and blue sure to be seen. There will be 10 races and music throughout the track that includes a performance on the Plaza Stage by Juice Box Heroes. There’s also word that Elvis could be somewhere in the building during the final spring night beneath the Churchill Downs lights.
Again joining the regular “Downs After Dark” dining options on Millionaires Row and the Sky Terrace will be seating for an evening in the new Terrace Lounge, which has been a popular spot for each of the two previous night racing parties. That 21-and-over venue located in the new Grandstand Terrace includes DJ entertainment along with access to purchase premium food and drink and a spectacular view of the night’s races from its unique position near the top of the homestretch and on the 15,224-square-foot Big Board.
“Downs After Dark” admission is $10, with box seats available for $20 and reserved access to the Terrace Lounge is $25.
Also available in the Terrace Lounge are a limited number of seats remaining in its VIP Cabanas. Seating in one of the Terrace Lounge Cabanas is $99 per person and includes a four-hour open bar and tapas buffet with special creations by Churchill Downs Executive Chef David Danielson that on Friday will include a new “S’Mores Pizza” dessert. For information and reservations in the Terrace Lounge VIP Cabanas, call (502) 638-3896.
Tickets to Friday’s “Downs After Dark” can be purchased online at www.ChurchillDowns/tickets or at the on-track box office at Gate 1 off Central Avenue. The on-track box office will be open Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Friday hours for “Downs After Dark” racing from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday’s program features a fantastic day of racing highlighted by a pair of major stakes events in the $200,000-added Firecracker, a Grade II turf event for older horses that was won last year by two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, and the 113th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor, a Grade III, six-furlong race for 2-year-olds and an early test for horses that could emerge as contenders for next year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). Also on the Saturday racing schedule is the $65,000-added Kelly’s Landing, a seven-furlong overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up.
The Fan Appreciation Day program on the meet’s closing day, Sunday, June 29, features 10 races and special food and beverage prices as Churchill Downs says “thank you” to its fans for their support during the 38-day Spring Meet that opened April 26. Members of the military – both active duty and retired – will be admitted free on Sunday when they present a military I.D.
The $1 food and drink “Fan Appreciation Day” specials include 16-ounce domestic beers at all locations where draft beer is served, 22-ounce Pepsi fountain drinks, bottled waters and hot dogs.
Racing will resume at Churchill Downs on Friday, Sept. 5, when the track opens its 12-day September Meet for the second consecutive year. That meet will offer Friday-Sunday racing through Sept. 28. The Churchill Downs’ 26-day Fall Meet will open Sunday, Oct. 26 and continue through Sunday, Nov. 30.