This week’s “Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser Select” nighttime racing event at Churchill Downs will have a South Beach theme when 11 races are conducted under the lights on Friday starting at 6 p.m. ET.

 Friday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with a high near 92, which means the weather will be as hot as the atmosphere. The historic home of the Kentucky Derby will have the look and feel of an outdoor South Beach nightclub, complete with mojitos, a limbo dance competition (8 p.m.) and music by Groove Essential (4-8:30 p.m.) and VJ 2ndNature (8:50 p.m. to midnight). Also, salsa music will be performed live in the VIP Party Zones Presented by Bacardi and Finlandia on the clubhouse balconies.

Downs After Dark is a perfect blend of an upscale night on the town with the excitement of thoroughbred racing. Ancillary entertainment such as food, fashion, music and parties is a showcased element. A total of 25,102 horseplayers and entertainment-seekers attended last Friday’s 2010 debut.

Each of this year’s events is themed. “Dress to Impress” high fashion will be the Friday, June 25 premise. The Spring Meet “Downs After Dark” finale on Friday, July 2 will be “An American Party: Boots, Brew & BBQ.” Two additional dates will be held in the fall: Sunday, Oct. 31 (“Spirits and Spires” and Friday, Nov. 19 (“Home for the Holidays”).

Friday’s admission gates will open at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 races begin at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern). Happy Hours will take place in the paddock area from 4-7 p.m. featuring $2 Anheuser Busch products and other discounted food and drink offerings. Between races 4, 5, 8 and 9, the popular sweepstakes promotion “Bet or No Bet” will return to ask randomly drawn fans to take $100 in cash or place a free $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race. The final live race will be after 11 p.m. and the on-track party will continue in the paddock area until midnight.

 Those looking to escape Friday’s steamy temperatures can take advantage of the limited reserved seating available indoors. “Date Night” dining packages in Millionaires Row remain available for $59.90 and include a scrumptious buffet dinner, live entertainment from 4-7 p.m., a reserved seat and an official program. Meanwhile, the outdoor third-floor box seats in sections 314-323 are nearly sold out. They are on sale for $20 and include general admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and an official program.

Cover charge (general admission) to all Downs After Dark events is $10. 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 tickets.churchilldowns.com – Churchill Downs’ new and convenient online box office platform. Customers can also call the Churchill Downs switchboard at (502) 636-4400.

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 4 p.m. at Gate 17.

Those attending Friday’s 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). Last year, all lots were 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 4 p.m. There will be free round-trip shuttle service throughout the evening with drop off and pick up at Gate 1.
 
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 host the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7, 2011 and the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 6, 2011. The track’s 2010 Spring Meet continues through Sunday, July 4. Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. Churchill Downs tickets are available at Tickets.ChurchillDowns.com or by calling (502) 636-4400. Additional information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at ChurchillDowns.com.

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