Churchill Renovation to Continue During Fall Meet

(from Churchill Downs report)

Racing to the wire is nothing new at Churchill Downs, but this fall it's construction crews and track employees rather than horses that are making a final surge to meet deadlines before the opening of the 27-day fall racing meet on Oct. 26.

The autumn racing session will run through Nov. 29. Racing fans will be welcomed into the historic facility a day earlier than Sunday's opening for the simulcast of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships from Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

The $95 million second phase of the track's sweeping $121 million renovation has focused in recent weeks on the erecting of the steel beams that will support renovated areas of the Churchill Downs Clubhouse. Construction crews have been working day and night on double shifts to assemble the massive steel skeleton of the new structure.

The 18-hour days will give way to a slightly reduced construction schedule during the racing meet. There will be no construction work during race days, which will begin with first post of 12:40 p.m. and conclude when the last run is run at approximately 5:10 p.m. The structural steel crews will report to work at roughly 6 p.m. on those days and work through the night until 5 a.m., just before horses hit the track for morning training. Steel construction crews will work during the daylight hours on the meet's "dark" days, Mondays and Tuesdays (except Nov. 4 & 11), and will be allowed to work through the day during Saturday's Breeders' Cup simulcast.

Although most of the clubhouse will not be in use because of the ongoing construction, the track will have 20,000 seats – including 8,600 box seats – available to patrons throughout the meet. Final touches are also being added to "First Turn Village," a two-story facility for groups located on the track's first turn, and on the three-floors of the now-completed "Jockey Club Suites," which include 19 rooms that are available for daily rental during the 27-day racing session.

Also available to patrons during the meet will be the "Paddock Pavilion," a popular simulcast wagering facility located adjacent to the paddock, and the "Lower Jockey Club," located beneath the Twin Spires.

The pre-meet work includes the installation of a pair of huge video screens in the infield that will allow patrons at any location on the track to get a close-up view of the finish of every race run during the meeting. A 20' x 27' screen will serve patrons in the grandstand, remaining areas of the clubhouse and the Jockey Club Suites. An 11' x 14' screen will provide a view of the races to fans in First Turn Village.

Because of construction, Churchill Downs' Trackside Louisville off-track betting facility at 4520 Poplar Level Road will remain open throughout the fall racing meet. That facility will also be open for Saturday's Breeders' Cup simulcast. Gates open at both facilities at 10 a.m. and the first Breeders' Cup race is scheduled for 1:20 p.m.

The track will offer free admission at both Churchill Downs and Trackside Louisville on weekdays this fall with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27 and Friday, Nov. 28.