The first race for Friday’s “Downs After Dark” nighttime racing celebration at Churchill Downs has been moved up one hour to 5 p.m. (all times EDT) because it is now a special 13-race program. Two “make-up” races originally scheduled for last Thursday were added to Friday’s card after an F1 tornado hit Churchill Downs’ barn area last Wednesday night and forced a cancellation of the next day’s program.
The theme for the final “Downs After Dark” of the 2011 Spring Meet is “The White Party,” a white-hot celebration in which guests are encouraged to wear an all-white wardrobe to kick-start the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend celebration. The featured entertainment will be an appearance by DJ Irie, who is the official DJ to actor/singer Jamie Foxx and the 2006 NBA World Champion Miami Heat. He’ll entertain partygoers by mixing the hottest dance music in the paddock area starting at 9 p.m. Endless Summer Band will precede DJ Irie on the paddock stage by performing between live races from 4-9 p.m. Admission gates will open as scheduled at 4 p.m. and Happy Hours will take place in the paddock area until 6 p.m. with $2 Anheuser Busch products and frozen drink specials.
Although the post time for the first of 13 races on Friday’s Downs After Dark finale is set for 5 p.m., admission gates will open on the regular night schedule at 4 p.m.
Churchill Downs is also adjusting the price of late-evening admission and some admission policies for the Spring Meet’s final night racing program. Effective Friday, the price of general admission to the track for “Downs After Dark” racing will increase at 10 p.m. from $10 to $20. Also, no one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track after 10 p.m. unless they are accompanied by a parent.
"Downs After Dark” Presented by Budweiser Select has proven to be wildly popular with area horse racing fans and entertainment seekers. The historic track made the adjustments to its late-evening admission policies to help ensure an enjoyable experience for all patrons who enthusiastically support the spectacular racing programs under Churchill Downs’ permanent lights. The two previous Downs After Dark events of the season attracted 23,332 (June 17) and 25,523 (June 24), respectively – three times more than what a typical Friday afternoon program would draw.
“Downs After Dark” is the perfect blend of an upscale night on the town with the excitement of Thoroughbred racing. Featured elements include cuisine, fashion, style, music, entertainment and great racing. The abundant ancillary activities coupled with live racing that have helped create a special and festive atmosphere, transformed the racetrack into Louisville’s ultimate nighttime hot spot, and left many attendees describing the experience as “something you’ve just got to see.”
CHURCHILL DOWNS TRANSFORMED FOR ‘DOWNS AFTER DARK’
The Churchill Downs facilities will be adorned by mood lighting, spotlights and seasonal greenery, and colorful bunting will flow throughout the grounds and entrances. With sleek and comfortable conversational seating options, cocktail tables, unique food and beverage stations and music added to the mix, the racetrack – particularly the paddock area – will have the look and feel of an upscale night club. All the while, there will be private VIP Party Zones Presented by Finlandia and Bacardi on the Finish Line Suites and Jockey Club Suites balconies, respectively, with lighted bars and guests dancing to live music starting at 7 p.m.
Patrons will have the option to taste non-traditional racetrack offerings such as flavorful grilled shrimp, chicken and steak skewers and vegetable kabobs. Evening appetites also will be satisfied by scrumptious premium dining offerings available for purchase inside Millionaires Row, the Skye Terrace and other locations.
Other ancillary activities include entertainment and interviews hosted by The Voice-Tribune’s Angie Fenton on the infield video boards, Derby Nation giveaways and the popular sweepstakes promotion called Bet or No Bet, sponsored by Thorntons, that randomly asks fans to take $100 in cash or place a free $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race. Bet or No Bet will take place during Races 8-11 with sign-ups taking place in the paddock area.
To set the tone for Friday’s party, there will be deejays at each admission gate and “Happy Hours” in the paddock area from 4-6 p.m. featuring $2 Anheuser Busch products and frozen drink specials.
RESERVED SEATING STILL AVAILABLE FOR FRIDAY NIGHT
There is reserved seating still available for Friday’s “Downs After Dark” finale:
- Indoor dining packages in Millionaires Row are $59.90 and include a scrumptious buffet dinner, reserved seat and official program;
- A Skye Terrace package for $30 that includes a climate-controlled indoor reserved seat, viewing balcony and an official program; and
- Outdoor third-floor box seats in sections 314-322 that are on sale for $20 and include general admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and an official program.
‘DOWNS AFTER DARK’ COVER CHARGE IS $10
Cover charge (general admission) to Downs After Dark is $10 until 10 p.m. and $20 thereafter. 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 until 10 p.m.
As usual, Churchill Downs will be open early for simulcast wagering on the second floor of the clubhouse Friday. General admission will be its regular price of $3 from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Gate 17.
All reserved ticket packages are available for purchase online at churchilldowns.com/tickets – Churchill Downs’ convenient online box office platform. Customers can also call the Churchill Downs switchboard at (502) 636-4400.
SPECIAL DOWNS AFTER DARK PARKING, TRAFFIC PLAN
Those attending Downs After Dark are encouraged to arrive early to secure on-site parking and avoid traffic delays. All on-property parking lots will open at 3 p.m. and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis (free in the Longfield Avenue lot). Typically, all lots are filled to capacity by post time for the second race. Churchill Downs will offer free parking and shuttle service from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium starting at 5 p.m. There will be free round-trip shuttle service throughout the evening with drop off and pick up at Gate 1. All Churchill Downs employees will be directed to park in the track’s infield (enter through Longfield tunnel).
Churchill Downs has secured the services of Louisville Metro Police Department officers and traffic guards to monitor area traffic on Central Avenue and other nearby streets to advance ingress and egress. LMPD will control traffic signals, turn lanes and pedestrian traffic and partial road closures are possible if it becomes necessary because of heavy traffic.
A total of 118 horses have been entered to compete on the 13-race program. The featured event is the $76,600-added Roxelana, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares at seven furlongs. It will go as Race 12 at approximately 10:42 p.m. The field from the rail out (with jockeys): Irish Witch (Oriana Rossi); Helen Belen (Jesus Castanon); Leopard Rock (Shaun Bridmohan); Choragus (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Fortune Play (Freddie Lenclud); Stage Magic (Corey Lanerie); Jocata (Calvin Borel); The Underling (Robby Albarado); Decelerator (Jon Court); and Lady’s Laughter (Julien Leparoux).