Following the overwhelming popularity of a three-date market test this spring, Churchill Downs will stage six special “Downs After Dark” nighttime racing programs under the lights in 2010.
The announcement was made Nov. 17 during a news conference at the Louisville racetrack that also revealed Musco Lighting as the winning contract bidder to install permanent track lighting at Churchill Downs and a new online platform for patrons to purchase tickets to the track.
Churchill Downs will host its unique Downs After Dark programs on the final four Fridays of the 42-date spring meet and two evening cards during the 20-date fall meet, including opening night which doubles as Halloween.
Here is a complete list of the 2010 Downs After Dark dates (with scheduled first post time), pending final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission:
• Friday, June 11, 2010 (6 p.m. ET)
• Friday, June 18, 2010 (6 p.m. ET)
• Friday, June 25, 2010 (6 p.m. ET)
• Friday, July 2, 2010 (6 p.m. ET)
• Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010 (4:30 p.m. ET)
• Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 (4:30 p.m. ET)
Churchill Downs hosted night racing events earlier this year on June 19, June 26, and July 2. The average attendance was 29,705 and the three-night total was 89,115. A modern day track record of 33,481 attended the finale on July 2 – the largest crowd for a Churchill Downs racing program other than a Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks or Breeders’ Cup. It topped the old mark of 28,396 for a pre-simulcast wagering era million-dollar Pick 6 carryover on Nov. 14, 1987.
The event’s popularity helped signal the go-ahead on a multi-million dollar project to install permanent track lighting at the home of the Kentucky Derby.
“We want to keep Downs After Dark a special and unique experience for our fans,” Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said. “For three nights this past spring, Churchill Downs was transformed into Louisville’s ultimate nighttime hot spot. The track was the place to be and offered the biggest party in town. Our distinctive events under the lights helped redefine the on-track racing experience and generated a tremendous buzz in the community and within the horse racing industry.
“It could not have been accomplished without the teamwork and support of our horsemen’s groups, neighborhood associations and employees and the fantastic support and participation we received from the Greater Louisville community. Our goal for the coming year is to deliver that same level of excitement to core customers, casual patrons and entertainment-seekers within these six special Downs After Dark events in 2010.”
Reserved ticket packages to 2010 Downs After Dark events are available for purchase online at tickets.churchilldowns.com – Churchill Downs’ new and convenient online box office platform.
Cover charge (general admission) to all Downs After Dark events will be $10. A special discounted general admission pass for entrance on all six nights is available for $45 (a $15 savings). Customers also have the opportunity to purchase a special $20 package that includes general admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and an official program. Additionally, Downs After Dark “Date Night” dinner and dancing packages are available for $59.90 and include a reserved seat in Millionaires Row, an official program and buffet dinner.
Downs After Dark combined live Thoroughbred racing with subtle facility changes and abundant ancillary activities that helped create a special and festive atmosphere in an evening setting under the stars. Food, fashion, music, parties and entertainment were showcased elements that added to the merrymaking.