Churchill Downs will be transformed into Louisville’s ultimate nighttime hot spot Saturday night as the historic Louisville racetrack presents another popular installment of “Downs After Dark” presented by Finlandia Vodka.
Billed as “Homecoming Dance: A Night to Remember,” “Downs After Dark” is the centerpiece of closing weekend festivities as Churchill Downs presents the final three days of racing at its new four-week September Meet.
Friday’s 10-race program, featuring the City’s Best Happy Hours! from 4-7 p.m. (all times Eastern), will begin at 1:45 p.m. Saturday’s special 11-race evening event starts at 6 p.m. The first race for Sunday’s 10-race finale, including Family Fun Day Presented by Kroger from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., is 12:45 p.m.
Saturday’s special nighttime racing and entertainment extravaganza is sure to be “everything your Homecoming Dance should have been – and more ...” Imagine yourself in a dance scene from your favorite high school movie. Guests are encouraged to grab an outfit from their closet inspired by their own high school experience or to wear their favorite homecoming dance-style outfit. There’ll even be a chance for someone to be crowned Churchill Downs’ Homecoming King or Queen prior to the eighth race.
Entertainment in the spacious 30,000-square foot Plaza adjacent to the Paddock – typically the heartbeat of the “Downs After Dark” party – includes a Sounds Unlimited Productions DJ from 4-7:30 p.m. and a performance by Radiotronic, which will bring the best music of the ’80s, ’90s and today, from 8 p.m. until closing time at 11:30 p.m. Meanwhile, there also will be music by The Wilson Brothers on the Clubhouse’s fifth floor balcony and a DJ at the Gate 17 entrance.
Other entertainment includes the return of the popular text-to-win sweepstakes “Bet or No Bet,” sponsored by Thorntons. Four lucky on-track patrons will face a tough decision: to place a $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race or take a $100 Thornton’s gift card. The promotion will be held on Races 6, 7, 9 and 10.
The featured drink of the night at select locations around the facility will be “Sweet Home Apple Pie,” a tasty concoction featuring el Jimador tequila.
Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 live races will begin at 6 p.m. ET. The final live race will be 11:10 p.m. Cover charge (general admission) to all Downs After Dark events is $10. Holders of shareholders passes or horsemen licenses and children age 12 and under (when accompanied by an adult) will be admitted free of charge. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
Reserved seating is available. Outdoor third-floor box seats are $20 and include general admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and an official program. Tickets can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets. The indoor dining packages in Millionaires Row ($59.90 per person and includes a delectable buffet dinner, reserved seat and official program) are virtually sold out.
The marquee entertainment event is coupled with stellar racing action. Fort Larned, ranked in a tie for sixth on the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, is preparing for a defense of his Breeders’ Cup Classic title with a run in the inaugural $175,000-added Homecoming Classic – a 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds and up that is the most lucrative race of the September Meet. One race later, a competitive field of nine 3-year-olds will contest the 36th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (Grade III) at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The Homecoming Classic and Jefferson Cup will run as Races 7 (9:05 p.m.) and 8 (9:39 p.m.), respectively. The Jefferson will be the first leg of a $100,000-guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool that covers Races 8-11. Bettors are challenged to pick four consecutive winners in the thought-provoking sequence of races that feature competitive fields of nine, 10, 12 and 10 entrants.
Saturday’s weather will be ideal. The National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for sunny skies with a high near 84 degrees and a low around 64. Sunset will be 7:30 p.m., which follows Race 4.
Closing week kicks off Friday at 1:45 p.m. with the final City’s Best Happy Hours! of the September Meet with drink specials ($2 Budweiser and Bud Lights and $3 Stella Artois) and food trucks (Get It On a Bun at Booty’s Diner and The Traveling Kitchen) in the Plaza from 4-7 p.m. Live music by Kudmani, who perform cover songs from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and today, will begin on the Plaza stage at 3 p.m.
Sunday’s closing day card will be complemented by Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger. The 10-race program, which begins at 12:45 p.m., will showcase family-focused activities on the Plaza Balcony throughout the day from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids 12 and younger are invited to enjoy games, crafts, visits from the popular mascot Churchill Charlie and a special closing day treat: the Honey Hill Farms Mobile Petting Zoo and Pony Rides in the Plaza until 3:30 p.m. Kids can throw on jockey silks and ride a miniature horse. The petting zoo will include animals such as rabbits, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, alpacas and a miniature horse and donkey. Also, Kona Ice of Louisville will be on hand to serve premium tropical-shaved ice treats, and Cookies and Canvas will give children the opportunity to paint while enjoying a tasty treat.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014, and has two more racing meets in 2013: the first September Meet scheduled for Sept. 6-29 and its Fall Meet, which runs from Oct. 27-Nov. 30. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.