Churchill Downs kicks off its 134th Spring Meet and the celebration of Kentucky Derby Week on Saturday, April 26, as the historic home of the “Run for the Roses” opens its 52-day spring session with an 11-race program headed by the 84th running of the $100,000-added Derby Trial.
The April 26-July 6 Spring Meet marks the 134th consecutive year that Churchill Downs has conducted racing in the spring, dating back to its debut meet in 1875 that featured the first running of the Kentucky Derby.
Post time for the first race on Saturday’s opening day program is 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT), a Derby Week schedule that will continues on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There is no racing on Monday of the meet’s opening week. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
Admission gates will open at 8 a.m. for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby programs on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3, respectively. Post time for the first race on both days is 11 a.m. The daily post time will drop back to 1:15 p.m. after Kentucky Derby Week, with the exception of “twilight” racing programs on Friday Happy Hours that will begin at 2:45 p.m.
A field of 10 three-year-olds was entered to contest Saturday’s Derby Trial at 7 ½ furlongs. The Derby Trial is the first event of a Spring Meet stakes schedule that will feature 31 stakes races during its 10 weeks of racing, 26 of which are graded events.
The stakes schedule is topped by the program on Saturday, May 5, that surrounds the 134th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. The Derby is one of six stakes events with total purses of a record-equaling $3.35 million, which will make the Derby Day program the richest single day of racing at the track outside of a visit by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Saturday’s opening day program will also include a special 2008 Spring Meet T-shirt giveaway, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, to the first 5,000 fans with paid admission.
Other Derby Week special events and promotions include a giveaway of a die-cast replica of the UPS/Churchill Downs Chevrolet and an autograph session with NASCAR drivers Dale Jarrett, David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
The 11th annual Festival in the Field, held over two days in the Churchill Downs infield, will be headlined by country music star Kellie Pickler on Thursday and alternative metal band Finger Eleven on Friday (Kentucky Oaks Day).
Following Derby Week, Caribbean-style Friday Happy Hours, sponsored by Fischer’s and Budweiser Select, will return every week from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. starting May 9.
2008 Spring Meet At A Glance
Dates: Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, July 6 (52 days). No racing on April 28 or May 4, 5 or 6. Dark on Mondays and Tuesdays following Derby Week. Live racing on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26; dark May 27 and 28.
Location: 700 Central Avenue, Louisville, Ky.
Gates Open: Derby Week, 11 a.m.; Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days, 8 a.m. Following Derby Week, gates open at 11:30 a.m. daily except for Fridays, which open at 1 p.m.
Post Times: Derby Week, 12:45 p.m.; Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days, 11 a.m. Following Derby Week, first post is at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, weekends and holidays. Post time on Fridays is 2:45 p.m.
Admission: $3 clubhouse and grandstand, $1 senior citizens and Twin Spires Club members; children ages 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Kentucky Oaks Day general admission is $25 and Kentucky Derby Day general admission is $40.
Parking: Free parking is available in the Longfield lot (gates 10 and 12); $3 in all other parking lots; $5 valet. No on-site parking on Kentucky Oaks or Kentucky Derby Days.
Programs: $2 on-track, $2.50 off-track. Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby programs $5 each on-track; $5.50 each off-track. Simulcast program $4 on-track, $4.50 off-track.
Wholecard Wagering: Schedule will vary but will include Aqueduct, Arlington, Belmont, Calder, Golden Gate, Hawthorne, Hollywood Park, Lone Star Park, Monmouth, Pimlico, River Downs and Woodbine.
Wagering Format: Daily Doubles every race; exactas every race; trifectas, superfectas and over/under every race that qualifies on field size; Super Hi-5 on the last race daily (except a to-be-determined race Oaks Day and the Kentucky Derby on Derby Day); Pick 6 on the last six races of each race card (except Oaks Day and Derby Day - races 5-10); rolling Pick 3 wagers every race; Pick 4 on races 1-4 & final four races (except Derby Day - races 1-4, 3-6, 7-10 & 9-12).
Television: All races except the Kentucky Derby on HRTV – on Insight-75 in Louisville from noon-6 p.m. races days (extended hours on Oaks/Derby Days and Fridays) and for all broadcast hours every day on Insight-564 (digital subscribers only).
Radio: WAVG-AM (1450) in Louisville; results of each race daily. WHAS-AM (840) in Louisville; results and a live call of the feature race.
Scratch Line: (502) 636-4404 or (502) 58-DOWNS
Results Line: (502) 636-4403 or (502) 58-DOWNS