The lone Downs After Dark nighttime racing event of Churchill Downs’ 21-day Fall Meet is Friday (Nov 18), and the first of 11 races under the lights at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby will be 4:30 pm (all times Eastern).
Presented by Budweiser Select, Downs After Dark will have an “Animal Kingdom” theme in which fans are encouraged to incorporate animal prints – one of the top 2011 Fall/Winter fashion trends – into their wardrobe for this exciting night of dining, dancing and racing beneath the Twin Spires. The theme also plays homage to this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, owned by Team Valor International.
The wildly-stylish party under the lights will feature an energetic mix of racing and live entertainment throughout the evening. Churchill Downs will be transformed into a wild “Animal Kingdom” with exotic print décor in the Paddock area and dining rooms.
Music at the track will be showcased throughout the evening. To set the tone for the party, the acoustic duo Josh and Holly will perform between live races in the paddock area from 3-5:30 p.m. and will be followed by “Decks and Drums,” a unique performance by DJ Prism (voted “Louisville’s Best Club DJ” in 2010-11 by LEO Magazine readers) and drummer Alex “Fro” Fromeyer from 6-8 p.m. The night will conclude with a performance by Nashville’s popular funk/rhythm and blues/soul band Burning Las Vegas from 8:30-10:30 p.m. (closing time).
Churchill Downs admission gates will open at 3 p.m. The first of 11 live races will be 4:30 p.m. and sunset is 5:28 p.m., which means at least seven races will be held under the lights. The final race is scheduled for 9:36 p.m. ET.
Cover charge (general admission) to Downs After Dark is $10 until 8:30 p.m. and $20 thereafter. Also, no one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track after 8:30 p.m. unless they are accompanied by a parent. Holders of shareholders passes or horsemen licenses, as well as select Twin Spires Club members (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze members only) and children age 12 and under (when accompanied by an adult) will be admitted free of charge.
All reserved ticket packages are available for purchase online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets – Churchill Downs’ convenient online box office platform. Customers also can call the Churchill Downs switchboard at (502) 636-4400.
The hot ticket is entrance to the new Millionaires Lounge, which has already been sold out. For $40, customers will receive racetrack admission, an official program, access to the Millionaires Lounge on the sixth floor of the Clubhouse which includes a balcony view of the racetrack (no reserved seat) and an exclusive, limited edition bourbon tasting of the new Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection (three bourbon tastings paired with food samplings). The Millionaires Lounge will also feature a cash bar, feature menu and live entertainment by Grupo Ache.
Some dining packages in Skye Terrace 6 remain available for $59.90 and include admission, a reserved seat, official program and scrumptious buffet dinner. Meanwhile, there are third-floor box seats available in sections 314-321 for $20 and include general admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and an official program.
The Voice-Tribune’s Angie Fenton will serve as Churchill Downs’ entertainment correspondent with special interviews and features on the infield video screens and television monitors between races.
Between races 6-9, the popular sweepstakes promotion “Bet or No Bet” sponsored by Thorntons (now a “Text to Enter” promotion) will return in which four lucky on-track patrons will be randomly drawn and faced with a tough decision: to take $100 in cash or place a $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race.
The final race of the night is scheduled for 9:36 p.m., but the party will continue in the paddock area until 10:30 p.m.
An added treat will be a special appearance by renowned artist Robert Joyner, who’ll be on hand after Race 5 (6:28 p.m.) in the Churchill Downs Gift Shop to sign prints of his official artwork for Kentucky Derby 138 and Kentucky Oaks 138.
The National Weather Service forecast for Friday calls for sunny skies with a high near 55 (right on par with the average for the date), followed by mostly clear skies and a low around 38 in the evening. Churchill Downs has added several portable outdoor heaters in select locations, such as the paddock area and Clubhouse and Jockey Club Suites balconies, to help keep outdoor patrons warm.
As usual, Churchill Downs will be open early for simulcast wagering on the second floor of the clubhouse on Friday. General admission will be its regular price of $3 from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Gate 17.
On-site parking at Churchill Downs – free in the Longfield Avenue lot and $3 in all other lots – will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also satellite parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (starting at $5 due to Friday’s state quarterfinals playoff football game between the Trinity Shamrocks and St. Xavier Tigers at 8 p.m.) with free shuttle service to Gate 17. Additionally, there is select parking in the surrounding neighborhood with enterprising neighbors.
Downs After Dark presented by Budweiser Select, the perfect blend of an upscale night on the town with the excitement of thoroughbred racing, has been a spectacular success while showcasing live racing with ancillary entertainment such as food, fashion, music and parties. So far, more than 325,000 horseplayers and entertainment-seekers have attended the 12 special nighttime programs since June 2009. The first nighttime event during the Fall Meet a year ago lured 15,583 fans – three times the norm for a Friday afternoon in the fall – and $6,238,179 in total wagers ($966,091 on-track and $5,272,088 off-track). Event sponsors include Budweiser Select, Woodford Reserve, Bacardi, Shane Co., Thorntons and RAM.
SPECIAL DOWNS AFTER DARK POST TIMES: Race 1 (start of early Pick 4), 4:30 p.m.; Race 2, 4:58 p.m.; Race 3, 5:27 p.m.; Race 4 (start of mid-card Pick 4), 5:57 p.m.; Race 5, 6:28 p.m.; Race 6 (start of Pick 6), 7 p.m.; Race 7, 7:32 p.m. (start of Pick 5); Race 8 (start of late Pick 4), 8:04 p.m.; Race 9, 8:36 p.m.; Race 10, 9:08 p.m.; and Race 11 (Super Hi-5), 9:36 p.m.