Churchill Downs will conduct the first of three historic “Downs After Dark” night racing sessions on Friday, June 19, as the home of the Kentucky Derby turns up the lights for the first time in its 135-year history. After the spectacular premier of the “Downs After Dark” racing experience, two additional sessions will follow on Friday, June 26, and Thursday, July 2, with the latter serving as a first-of-its-kind kickoff for Independence Day festivities and the closing weekend of the 2009 Spring Meet.
Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. (all times EDT) for each session of night racing, with first post for each 11-race card scheduled for 6 p.m.
“Racing is at the core of everything we do at Churchill Downs, and it remains as important to us today as when we first opened our gates in 1875,” said Kevin Flanery, senior vice president of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “But one hundred and thirty-five years changes a lot of things, and as we seek to redefine the racetrack experience and keep our sport relevant for today’s customers, we are excited to offer the night racing experience under the Twin Spires for the very first time. We hope our customers will enjoy the upscale evenings we have planned, which will offer our guests the perfect blend of a night on the town and the excitement of Thoroughbred racing.”
As usual, the on-track action at Churchill Downs will match talented horses from top stables ridden by many of America’s greatest jockeys. The racetrack itself, however, will be transformed into Louisville’s ultimate entertainment hotspot for the “Downs After Dark” experience. On June 19, customers will receive a celebrity welcome into Churchill Downs with the chance to walk the red carpet, which will be richly decorated with colorful buntings and seasonal flowers. The Voice-Tribune's Angie Fenton and Kentucky Derby 2009 Chief Party Officer Nick “RiNickulous” Ferrara will be on hand to interview guests as they arrive, adding to the “celebrity arrival” feel. Once inside, the Downs will come alive with color and live music for an extended “Happy Hours” celebration to remember.
The paddock area will offer sleek and comfortable seating areas open to the general public, a beer garden presented by Budweiser Select at Gate 17, and food and beverage specials that include grilled shrimp skewers, grilled vegetable kabobs, grilled beef and chicken skewers, premium a la carte hors d’oeuvres, and classic racetrack favorites. Regional favorite Endless Summer Band and internationally renowned VJ 2ndNature will offer high-energy covers of modern rock, pop and hip-hop music. The “Happy Hours” event will continue from opening until 8 p.m.
Numerous specialty bars will be open throughout the facility during each night racing experience. VIP guests will enjoy access to balcony parties in the clubhouse and specialty bands featuring the jazz sounds of TA2 Latin Sounds and Swing 39, as well as quiet lounge areas throughout the clubhouse illuminated in soothing mood lighting.
Night racing programs at Churchill Downs will offer exciting dining options for the first-ever evening of racing under the Twin Spires. They include the following:
• “Dinner by Design” in the Stakes, Aristides and Directors Rooms offers an upscale option for guests seeking an elegant night on the town. A lavish evening is planned, with a sumptuous five-course dinner designed by Tony Mantuano, the award-winning and critically acclaimed executive chef of Spiaggia in Chicago, the Windy City’s only four-star Italian restaurant. The experience will be completed by celebrity chef appearances, including a visit by Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Jo Jo Doyle, as well as wine pairings and a full bar package until 9 p.m. “Dinner by Design” reservations are available at a cost of $150 per guest.
• “Date Night” in Millionaires Row 4, Millionaires Row 6 and other premium areas will offer a “supper club” feel for couples enjoying a night out. As guests arrive, a selection of appetizers will be brought to their tables, including antipasto platters and an amuse bouche of shrimp tango. A Chef’s Table® featuring the main course of beef sirloin and chicken criolla accompanied by a selection of sides will open at 6:30 p.m., and a flambé action station will offer classic desserts until 10 p.m. Live music and dancing cap off the unforgettable evening. Reservations in Millionaires Row 4 are available at a cost of $59.90 per guest. Reservations in Millionaires Row 6 include a full bar package and are available at a cost of $95 per guest.
• The Matt Winn Dining Room is offering an elegant Chef’s Table® dining experience complete with live music from a jazz trio. Reservations are available for $49.90 per guest.
Churchill Downs will offer reserved clubhouse seating for $15 in advance, which includes admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and a program. Prices are effective for the June 19 date only. For reservations and availability, please contact Churchill Downs at (502) 636-4400.
Admission to “Downs After Dark” is $10 on June 19 and $6 on both June 26 and July 2. Members of Churchill Downs’ free customer rewards program, the Twin Spires Club, and seniors age 60 and older will be admitted for just $1 each night. Twin Spires Club signups will not be available during “Downs After Dark,” but interested parties are welcome to sign up on any live racing day outside of Gate 10 or at any Twin Spires Club service desk inside the racetrack.
Churchill Downs is offering a special reduced-price $15 package for admission to all three night racing sessions. The “Downs After Dark” package ticket may be purchased by calling (502) 636-4400. It will also be available at the reserved seating booth inside Gate 17 beginning Thursday, June 4, and outside of Gates 1, 10 and 17 on June 19.
Parking for “Downs After Dark” is free in the Longfield Avenue lot, with on-site parking available on a first-come, first-served basis. Valet parking will be available. Churchill Downs will also offer free parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and will run free round-trip shuttle service throughout the evening.
The lighting in place to illuminate the famous one-mile oval of Churchill Downs was supplied by Musco Sports Lighting, a leader in sports-lighting technology. Nearly 400 TempLight units will be in place at 43 locations around the racetrack, with power ranging from 1500 to 6000 watts. Additional lighting will be installed through the facility, including the paddock area and public parking lots.
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 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010. The track’s 2009 Spring Meet is underway and continues through July 5. Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on November 5 and 6, 2010. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.