The busiest week at Churchill Downs Racetrack since Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week launches a four-day run on Thursday, June 16 that features Saturday’s “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and El Jimador” night racing “White Party” celebration and the running of the Stephen Foster Handicap, Father’s Day at the track on Sunday and the weekly Twilight Thursday party highlighted by music, food trucks and the pursuit of the still-growing carryover pool in the 20-cent minimum Single 6 Jackpot.
Saturday’s Downs After Dark “White Party” attendees are encouraged to wear their summer whites for their special evening beneath the Twin Spires. Highlights will include the 2016 Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft’s “KMAC Couture Fashion Show,” the return of the popular “Bet or No Bet Presented by Thorntons” between Races 6-9, the presentation of the engraved winner’s trophies to the connections of Kentucky Derby 142 winner Nyquist and live music on the Plaza Stage throughout the evening by The Bishops (www.thebishopslive.com).
Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill will be at Churchill Downs on Saturday evening to accept the engraved Kentucky Derby winner’s trophies for owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez, each of whom joined O’Neill in earning their second Derby triumphs in as many tries. Team Nyquist also won the 2012 Derby with I’ll Have Another.
While celebrating Nyquist’s triumph in this year’s Run for the Roses, Churchill Downs will look ahead to first weekend in May in 2017 with the unveiling of the official event logos for the 2017 Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Post time for the first of 11 Downs After Dark races is 6 p.m. (all times EDT). Admission gates open at 5 p.m.
General admission to Churchill Downs is $10 on Saturday night’s Downs After Dark celebration. Box seats are $25 and reserved dining packages are $70. All can be purchased online at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.
Saturday’s Downs After Dark program is highlighted by the 35th running of the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, one of America’s top events for older horses and a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Classic Division” event. The winner of the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate and traveling costs for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
Other highlights of the Stephen Foster “Downs After Dark” racing celebration include the $200,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (GII), a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Distaff Division” contest that will provide its winner with a berth in the $2 million Distaff (GI), and the $200,000 Wise Dan, a Grade II race on turf that has been renamed to honor Mort Fink’s Wise Dan, a two-time Horse of the Year and winner of six Eclipse Awards who earned four stakes triumphs on grass and the main track at Churchill Downs. The now-retired Wise Dan will parade in the paddock prior to the race so fans can catch a glimpse of the champion.
The evening also features the $100,000 Matt Winn, a Grade III race for 3-year-olds named in honor of the longtime Churchill Downs president known as “Mr. Derby,” and the $100,000 Regret, a Grade III on turf named for the first of only three fillies to defeat males in the 142-year history of the Kentucky Derby.
Four memorable days of racing and entertainment at Churchill Downs will be kicked off on Thursday, June 16 with the weekly Twilight Thursday program. This week’s event offers live music, $1 beers and offerings by five of the region’s finest food trucks, along with another opportunity for fans to pursue the growing 20-cent minimum Single 6 Jackpot wager.
The carryover pool for the Single Six Jackpot has grown to $560,991 after 21 days. Twilight Thursday’s Single 6 Jackpot sequence begins in Race 3, which has a scheduled post time of 5:58 p.m.
The Single 6 will pay-out its entire pool only if there is a single winning ticket, but 90 percent of each day’s betting pool is returned to bettors when there is no individual winner. The remaining 10 percent then goes into the Single 6 carryover pool for the next day’s racing.
This week’s Twilight Thursday party on the Plaza will feature live music on the Plaza Stage by The Hager Band. The roster of the region’s finest food trucks includes ¡Holy Molé!, Longshot Lobsta, Mark’s Feed Store, Red Top Gourmet Hot Dogs and Zoom Zoom Yum.
The first of the eight live races on Twilight Thursday is scheduled for 5 p.m., but the live music begins and the food truck offerings are available when admission gates open at 4 p.m. General admission to Twilight Thursday is $3.
Sunday’s celebration of Father’s Day offers many ways to make Dad feels special with a visit to the home of the Kentucky Derby. Start that special day with the delicious new Stakes and Eggs Brunch for $45 for adults and $22 for children 12 and up. The Stakes and Eggs Brunch begins each Sunday with the opening of the Churchill Downs admission gates at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are available online at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets or by calling (502) 636-4450.
Other dining packages and special offers are available for online purchase, including the Father’s Day Combo, which consists of a reserved box seat, race day program and a voucher for a domestic draft beer or souvenir soda and a hot dog for just $15.
General admission to Churchill Downs on Father’s Day is $5, with reserved seating starting at $10. First race post time is 12:45 p.m. and admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.
The Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest continues Sunday in the track’s ITW on the second floor of the Clubhouse at the top of the Gate 17 escalators. Registration is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the contest based on mythical $2 wagers will focus on Races 3-8. The first-place prize in the Who’s the Champ? Contest is a $1,000 cash voucher, with a $500 voucher going to the runner-up and $200 to the contest’s third-place finisher.
The entry fee for the Who’s the Champ? Contest is $35 or just $30 for TSC Elite members.