Churchill Downs raises the curtain on Kentucky Derby Week and its 2010 Spring Meet on Saturday, April 24 with the revitalized $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (Grade III) set as the featured event on an 11-program kicks off what bids to be a memorable 42-day racing session that will includes four “Downs After Dark” night racing sessions under permanent lights and a compelling schedule of special events.
Along with the outstanding racing on the opening day of the spring racing session, the first 5,000 patrons through the Churchill Downs admission gates will receive a voucher redeemable for an Opening Day T-Shirt sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. The T-Shirt can be used to gain free admission to the track every weekday throughout the meet, starting Thursday, May 6. Opening Day fans may also register to win the Kentucky Garland Escort Package, which includes tickets to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and the opportunity to escort famed Garland of Roses that goes to the Kentucky Derby winner to the Derby Winner’s Circle, also compliments of Fifth Third Bank.
Admission to Churchill Downs during the Spring Meet is $3 and $1 for seniors and Twin Spires Club members. Exceptions include April 29-30, May 1 and “Downs After Dark” racing on June 11, 18 & 25 and July 2. “Downs After Dark” admission is $10. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a parent.
Post time for Saturday’s opening racing session is 12:45 p.m. (all times EST) and admission gates open at 11:00 a.m. The 12:45 p.m. will continue through most of Kentucky Derby Week – there will be no racing on Monday or Tuesday – and for most of the Spring Meet. There is a special 10:30 a.m. post time on both Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Days, then there will be no racing beneath the historic Twin Spires until Thursday, May 6. Daily post time after Kentucky Derby Week will remain at 12:45 p.m., with the exception of:
- Fridays after Derby Week except June 11, 18, 25 and July 2: 2:45 p.m. ET.
- Special 6 p.m. “Downs After Dark” night racing under the track’s new permanent light system on Fridays, June 11, 18, 25 and July 2.
The track’s 136th Spring Meet is headed by the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on Saturday, May 1 and the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, April 30. Those races headline a stakes schedule for the April 24-July 4 Spring Meet with total purses of $7.1 million.
The Cliff’s Derby Trial on Saturday, April 24 gets the stakes schedule off to a spectacular start as the 86th running of the last of the spring’s Kentucky Derby prep races has a new sponsor in Thoroughbred owner and breeder Robert LaPenta and the race is named in honor of his star The Cliff’s Edge, who finished fifth in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. The Grade III race carries a record purse of $200,000-added, has been restored to its traditional one-mile distance and looms as an important Kentucky Derby prep for the first time in years.
The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap on June 12+`, respectively, head three special event days that consist of five or more stakes races with total purses in excess of $1 million. The biggest of those days is Kentucky Derby Day, which includes six stakes races with total purses of $3.35 million. Kentucky Oaks Day features the main event and five other stakes races with total purses of $1.325 million. And five stakes races set for Stephen Foster Handicap Day carry total purses of $1.15 million.
The Stephen Foster Handicap racing program on Saturday, June 12 shares the spotlight with the return of Kentucky Derby Alumni Day, which will feature appearances by Derby stars from the illustrious decade of the 1970’s that produced three Triple Crown winners.
Popular recurring events during the 2010 Spring Meet include:
- Dress to Impress Friday Happy Hours sponsored by Budweiser Select (beginning Friday, May 7);
- "Get in the Game” Seminars with Jill Byrne beginning May 8;
- “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Tournament on Sundays May 16, 23 & 30 and June 6 & 13;
- Senior Days on Thursday June 10, 17 & 24.