The elite of the professional golfing world will combine with the best of Thoroughbred racing on Friday, Sept. 19, as historic Churchill Downs hosts “Soiree Under the Spires,” an exclusive gala that serves as the premier social event of The Cup Experience during Ryder Cup week in Louisville.

“The presence of The Ryder Cup in Louisville places our city in the international spotlight, and is a great honor for our entire community,” said Dave Tompkins, senior vice president of Churchill Downs Incorporated.  “Certainly, Churchill Downs is thrilled to bring the PGA’s best to the home of the Kentucky Derby for this exclusive event.  ‘Soiree Under the Spires’ is a must for out-of-town fans hoping to experience Louisville’s greatest landmark, and also gives local residents a chance to enjoy a personal, once-in-a-lifetime experience with PGA players and officials.”

The exclusive event will include entertainment by Grammy Award-winning artist Michelle Branch and will be attended by the elite of the racing and golfing world, including former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, winner of the 1996 Open Championship and the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year in 1996; Fuzzy Zoeller, who won the 1979 Masters in his first appearance in the event and the 1984 U.S. Open; jockey Pat Day, winner of the 1992 Kentucky Derby and a four-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey; and retired jockey and NBC sports commentator Gary Stevens, whose credits include three victories in the Kentucky Derby and a leading role in the 2003 movie Seabiscuit.  Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bob Evans and former University of Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum also plan to attend, as well as an assortment of sports celebrities, international dignitaries, PGA players and local media celebrities.

Ticket prices for the event range from $500 to $1,000, and limited quantities are still available.  More information is available by calling Angela Shelman at (502) 894-9768 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

The evening at Churchill Downs includes a sampling of Kentucky bourbons, America’s only native spirit, and offers an up-close view of horses from the Kentucky Horse Park in the paddock area.  The party then moves to the elegant members-only Turf Club for a cocktail reception and live entertainment, followed by a sumptuous Kentucky-themed dinner served in the world-renowned Millionaires Row, perennial gathering place for the Kentucky Derby’s most exclusive clientele.  Guests will enjoy picturesque views of the beautiful racecourse from both areas.

The evening will also include both live and silent auctions.  Items up for auction will include tickets to the 2009 Masters and 2009 Kentucky Derby; a Mercedes Benz smart car donated by Smart Center Louisville; a custom Cup Experience motorcycle from Derby City Custom motorcycles; trips to Ireland, Hilton Head, S.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago; rare autographed golf and racing items; and an original Tiger Woods painting by acclaimed artist Billy Lopa.

Proceeds from Soiree Under the Spires will benefit a number of local charities, including the Fightmaster Cup, Kentucky Harvest/Blessings in a Backpack, Brandon’s House Counseling Center, the Michael Quinlan Brain Tumor Foundation, the Louisville Deaf Oral School, the Robby Albarado Foundation to assist homeless and socially-economically disadvantaged individuals in the Louisville area, and the West Louisville Performing Arts Academy.

The Ryder Cup, professional golf’s top international match play competition, is one of the most prestigious events in all of sports.  The 37th Ryder Cup will be played at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Sept. 16-21, 2008.

Metro Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson formed the Louisville Host Committee to oversee the community’s support for the 2008 Ryder Cup.  The Host Committee created The Cup Experience, a not-for-profit organization that is operating and promoting a series of community-wide events and activities prior to and during the Ryder Cup.  For more information on The Cup Experience – presented by regional supercenter Meijer – go to

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 Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009. The track’s 2008 Fall Meet runs from October 26 through November 29. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record six times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at

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