Churchill Downs rolls in to the homestretch of its 52-day Spring Meet on Wednesday, July 2, with five days of racing that include three major stakes races and special events that include a Thursday “Holiday Happy Hours” party and an infield celebration on the 4th of July that bids to be the “World’s Largest Free Picnic.” The final week of live racing in the Spring Meet ends on Sunday, July 6.
The meet’s final five days of racing get underway on Wednesday with a nine-race program that begins at 1:15 p.m. (all times EDT). The closing week action quickly shifts into holiday mode on Thursday, July 3, with twilight racing and a first race post time of 2:45 p.m., as well as a special “Holiday Happy Hours” celebration. Like the meet’s popular “Friday Happy Hours” celebrations, Thursday’s “Holiday Happy Hours” is sponsored by Budweiser Select and Fischer’s and offers $2 beer, $2 frozen drinks and $2 hot dogs, and live music by Songs for Tuesday in the paddock garden from 4-7 p.m. The track offers 11 races on Thursday’s pre-holiday program. Admission gates open at 1 p.m.
The three-day 4th of July holiday weekend coincides with the final three days of racing in the Churchill Downs Spring Meet. Racing begins at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with major stakes highlighting each of those days.
Racing on Independence Day is headed by the $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap, a Grade II race for 3-year-olds and up on the turf that has attracted Woodford Reserve Turf Classic winner Einstein, three-time Churchill Downs stakes winner Inca King and River City Handicap winner Thorn Song. While the equine stars perform in holiday races, the Churchill Downs infield will be the scene of the “World’s Largest Free Picnic.” The daylong celebration of music, food and fun is sponsored by Louisville’s WAKY 103.5 and features music by Louisville’s legendary Monarchs and other great bands, a classic car show and inflatables for the kids. WAKY 103.5 will distribute passes for free admission on Friday at Gate 10 beginning at 11 a.m., while the music at the “World’s Largest Free Picnic” begins at 11:45 and continues through 6:15 p.m.
Saturday’s 11-race program features the $150,000-added, Grade III Bashford Manor Stakes for 2-year-olds. Fans will be able to meet some of the outstanding jockeys of the Spring Meet during Saturday’s final edition of “Jockey Talk” from 11:30 a.m. until noon next to the paddock. Sunday’s Spring Meet finale is also scheduled to feature 11 races and is headed by the $150,000-added Locust Grove Handicap for fillies and mares on the turf.
This week’s five days of Spring Meet racing at Churchill Downs will be the last live racing at the historic track until its 26-day Fall Meet, which will run from Oct. 26 through Nov. 29.