LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014) â€“ Racing returns to Churchill Downs in earnest Friday night (Sept. 5) as the historic Louisville racetrack opens its second annual September Meet for an action-packed 12-date run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 28.
The September Meet was inaugurated by Churchill Downs a year ago to provide Kentucky horsemen with an opportunity to compete for ample prize money and to deliver an entertaining product to horseracing fans and entertainment seekers.
A vibrant atmosphere is likely for Saturday nightâ€™s 10-race opener that begins at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern). The season begins under the lights with â€œDowns After Dark Presented by Old Forester: College Rivalry Night.â€ Louisville is known to many as one of Americaâ€™s best college sports cities and Churchill Downs will salute its local college teams and simultaneously raise funds for The V Foundation for Cancer Research by donating $1 for every fan in attendance.
Fans are encouraged to show their school pride by wearing their team colors and participating in competitive games and contests, including Tailgating Olympics, trick shot cornhole, bouncy horse races, a football toss contest and a dunk tank. Popular DJ 2nd Nature will entertain guests on the Plaza Stage starting at 8 p.m. with his artful blend of sights and high-energy sounds, while local college cheer and dance teams perform at locations throughout the track. Attendees also will be able to compete for a chance to win a VIP experience to the Jimmy V Menâ€™s Basketball Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec. 9, which features matchups between U of L and Indiana and Illinois and Villanova.
Seventy-seven horses were entered for Friday nightâ€™s action, including eight fillies and mares that will sprint seven furlongs in a first-level allowance that serves as the featured eighth race at 9:39 p.m. Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirschâ€™s 3-year-old filly Haunted Heroine, a Bret Calhoun trainee whoâ€™ll make her first start since a runner-up effort at Fair Grounds in January, is among the top contenders. The field from the rail out (with jockeys): Soul Title (Robby Albarado), Swept Up (Shaun Bridgmohan), Haunted Heroine (Leandro Goncalves), Ketel Twist (Alan Garcia), Quick as a Bunny (Julien Leparoux), Bella Veloce (Rosie Napravnik), Fioretti (Joe Johnson) and Brown Eyed Mary (Ricardo Santana Jr.).
Horsemen can compete for more than $4 million in prize money in 121 scheduled races for a daily average of $335,800. The meetâ€™s eight-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $925,000 kicks off Saturday (Sept. 6) with a stakes quartet, including two important 1 1/16-mile fixtures for juveniles that could produce starters in next springâ€™s $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). The $100,000-added Iroquois (GIII) kicks off the 35-race â€œRoad to the Kentucky Derbyâ€ series, while the $200,000-added Pocahontas (GII) starts the 31-race â€œRoad to the Kentucky Oaks.â€ Also, both races are Breedersâ€™ Cup â€œWin and Youâ€™re Inâ€ Challenge events, which means the winners will receive automatic berths in the starting gate for their respective Breedersâ€™ Cup races with pre-entry and entry fees paid plus $10,000 travel stipends (if nominated).
Saturdayâ€™s stakes foursome is completed by the $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) for top milers and $100,000-added Locust Grove over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares. Entries will be taken Wednesday morning (Sept. 3) with post positions set to be drawn in the early afternoon.
The $100,000-added Open Mind, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, will be the featured event on Saturday, Sept. 13, while the $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 20. The second running of the $125,000 Homecoming Classic â€“ a 1 1/8-mile race designed to be a prep for the 1 Â¼-mile Breedersâ€™ Cup Classic and Novemberâ€™s $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) â€“ will share the stage on Saturday, Sept. 27 with the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII), a one-mile race for 3-year-olds on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Racing during the 12-date September Meet will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Sept. 5 through Sept. 28. First post on Saturdays and Sundays will be 12:45 p.m. ET (gates open at 11:30 a.m.) and the first race on Fridays varies. Racing will start at 6 p.m. for Downs After Dark events on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19 (gates open at 4 p.m.), and 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 (gates open at 1:30 p.m.). Ten races are scheduled each day with a special 11-race program on Sept. 19.
General admission is just $3 most days ($1 for seniors age 60 and up) and $10 for premier Downs After Dark events. Reserved box seats are $10 ($20 for Downs After Dark); a seat in the Matt Winn Dining Room is $15; and indoor dining options are $34.50 ($60 for Downs After Dark). Special Downs After Dark offerings include the new 21+ Terrace Lounge for $25 and 21+ Terrace Lounge VIP cabanas for $99. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult (Downs After Dark policy: no one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult). Free seating is available over a first-come, first-serve basis in Sections 113-118. Parking is free in the Longfield Avenue lot (Gates 10 & 12) and $3 in all other lots. Valet parking is $5.
In addition to the racing, thereâ€™s a jam-packed special events calendar that offers a little something for just about everybody:
Downs After Dark Presented by Old Forester: College Rivalry Night Friday, Sept. 5, 6 p.m. First Race
Road to the Kentucky Derby Kickoff Saturday, Sept. 6, 12:45 p.m. First Race The 2014-15 â€œRoad to the Kentucky Derbyâ€ and â€œRoad to the Kentucky Oaksâ€ series of qualifying races kicks off at Churchill Downs with the $100,000-added Iroquois (Grade III) and $200,000-added Pocahontas (GII), respectively. The two 1 1/16-mile races for promising juveniles headline a stakes quartet that also includes the $100,000-added Ack Ack Ack Handicap (GIII), a one-mile test for 3-year-olds and up, and $100,000-added Locust Grove, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares. All four of last yearâ€™s races produced starters in the Breedersâ€™ Cup World Championships. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first race is at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Churchill Downs Friday Happy Hour Friday, Sept. 12, 4-7 p.m. Enjoy live racing and one of Louisvilleâ€™s best Friday Happy Hours on Sept. 12 from 4-7 p.m. Country music artist Pamela K. Ward will perform live on the Plaza Stage and Churchill Downs is serving up cold domestic draft beers for $2, Stella Artois for $3 and specially priced specials from the Plaza grill. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Football Watch Party / $100,000 Open Mind Saturday, Sept. 13, 12:30 p.m. Kick Off Gather with a multitude of other U of L fans to watch the Cardinals take to the gridiron against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first ACC match-up between the two schools, while simultaneously enjoying the thrills of live racing at Churchill Downs. Bleacher seating will be added to the Plaza with the U of L game shown uninterrupted on the giant 16â€™ x 20â€™ Plaza video screen. During the game, Churchill Downs will be serving cold Bud and Bud Light for $2, Stella Artois for $3, and a selection of traditional tailgate foods from the Plaza grill. Gates open at 11:30 a.m., the Louisville game starts at 12:30 p.m. and the first race is 12:45 p.m. The featured racing event is the $100,000-added Open Mind, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Admission is free to college students with a current student ID. Paid general admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Family Adventure Day presented by Kroger Sunday, Sept 14, 11:30 a.m. Gates Open In recognition of the Belle of Louisvilleâ€™s 100th birthday, Churchill Downs is hosting the Belle Centennial Bash Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 14, as part of its Family Adventure Day presented by Kroger series. While adults can enjoy an exciting day of live horse racing, their children will enjoy more than a dozen inflatables, activities and games throughout the day. Participation in the Family Adventure Day activities requires the purchase of a Family Pavilion Ticket which is $10 for adults or $5 per child and includes gate admission and access to family seating on the Grandstand Terrace. Adults can save $5 by buying wristbands in advance online at http://www.ChurchillDowns.com. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first race is at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Downs After Dark presented by Stella Artois & Old Forester: Oktoberfest Friday, Sept. 19, 6 p.m. First Race Churchill Downs is transforming its spacious 30,000-square-foot Plaza into Louisvilleâ€™s largest beer garden to celebrate Oktoberfest in true Bavarian style on Friday, Sept, 19. In addition to a live polka band and a roaming accordion player, the Plaza Stage features live performances by The Rheingold Band and the popular cover band, The Respectables. A variety of German beers and traditional German foods such as sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels will be available for sale. Gates open at 4 p.m. and the first race is at 6 p.m. General admission is $10, reserved box seats are $20, the new 21+ Terrace Lounge is $25, Millionaires Row is $60 and 21+ Terrace Lounge VIP cabanas are $99.
$100,000 Dogwood Stakes Saturday, Sept. 20, 12:45 p.m. First Race The $100,000-added Dogwood, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies that honors the hardy, blooming tree that adds so much beauty to the landscape in Kentucky, is the featured event. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first race is at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Churchill Downs Friday Happy Hour Friday, Sept. 26, 4-7 p.m. Happy Hour returns to Churchill Downs on Friday, Sept 24 from 4-7 p.m. with exciting Thoroughbred racing and an afternoon of live music and happy hour specials. Friday Happy Hour begins at 4 p.m. with performances by country artist Minnie Murphy on the Plaza Stage and cold domestic draft beer for $2, $3 Stella Artois and food specials at the Plaza grill. Gates open at 1:30 p.m. and the first race is at 2:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Ladies Day at the Races: A Fundraiser to Benefit the Backside Learning Center Friday, Sept. 26, 2:45 p.m. First Race Ladies Day at the Races, a fundraiser to benefit the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs, returns for the eighth consecutive year. The popular event will take place in Millionaries Row 6 from 1:30 p.m. through the final race and includes a late lunch buffet, fashion show and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $75 per person or $500 for a table of eight. For more information, call (502) 634-6543.
Stakes Doubleheader: $125,000 Homecoming Classic and $100,000 Jefferson Cup Saturday, Sept. 27, 12:45 p.m. First Race Positioned five weeks in advance of the Breedersâ€™ Cup Classic, the second running of the $125,000-added Homecoming Classic is a potential prep race for area horsemen who have lofty goals. The 1 1/8-mile race is designed as a regional prep for the 1 Â¼-mile Breedersâ€™ Cup Classic and Novemberâ€™s $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI). Last yearâ€™s inaugural winner was defending Classic champ Fort Larned. The dayâ€™s spotlight is shared by 3-year-olds who will compete one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course in the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII). Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first race is at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
Autumn Nâ€™Spires Festival Sunday, Sept. 28, 12:45 p.m. First Race Close out the Churchill Downs September Meet with the Autumn Nâ€™Spires Festival featuring live entertainment on the Plaza Stage by the popular bands Southern Sirens and A Lion Named Roar. Satisfy your appetite by sampling specialty foods from several of Louisvilleâ€™s favorite food trucks, including Grind, Holy Moleâ€™, Lilâ€™ Cheezers, Longshot Lobsta and Jam Pan. A bourbon bar in the Plaza will be serving specialty cocktails. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first race is 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
SEPTEMBER MEET BASICS â€“ Racing during the 12-date September Meet will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Sept. 5 through Sept. 28. First post on Saturdays and Sundays will be 12:45 p.m. ET (gates open at 11:30 a.m.) and the first race on Fridays varies. Racing will start at 6 p.m. for Downs After Dark events on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19 (gates open at 4 p.m.), and 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 (gates open at 1:30 p.m.). Ten races are scheduled each day with special 11-race programs on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19. General admission is just $3 most days ($1 for seniors age 60 and up) and $10 for premier Downs After Dark events. Reserved box seats are $10 ($20 for Downs After Dark); a seat in the Matt Winn Dining Room is $15; and indoor dining options are $34.50 ($60 for Downs After Dark). Special Downs After Dark offerings include the new 21+ Terrace Lounge for $25 and 21+ Terrace Lounge VIP cabanas for $99. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult (Downs After Dark policy: no one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult). Free seating is available over a first-come, first-serve basis in Sections 113-118. Parking is free in the Longfield Avenue lot (Gates 10 & 12) and $3 in all other lots. Valet parking is $5.
MILESTONES â€“ Robby Albarado enters the September Meet nine wins shy of becoming only the third jockey win 1,000 races at Churchill Downs. He has 991 local wins and only trails Pat Day (2,482) and Calvin Borel (1,163) in the all-time standings. Albarado also needs two local stakes wins to reach 75, which ranks second to Dayâ€™s 156. Others who are nearing significant local milestones: owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey (record 391 wins), trainer Rusty Arnold II (299 wins), jockey Jesus Castanon (299 wins), trainer Eddie Kenneally (194 wins), trainer Rob Oâ€™Connor (99 wins), trainer Randy Morse (98 wins), trainer Bret Calhoun (97 wins), jockey Rosie Napravnik (91 wins), Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas (73 stakes wins), trainer Todd Pletcher (39 stakes wins), trainer Dale Romans (39 stakes wins), trainer Kenny McPeek (29 stakes wins), trainer Tom Amoss (19 stakes wins), jockey Corey Lanerie (18 stakes wins). Also, jockey Jon Court (448 wins) needs four wins to tie Mike McDowell (452 wins) for 14th on the all-time jockey standings, and Miguel Mena (328 wins) needs four wins to tie Mark Guidry (332 wins) for 22nd. Claiborne Farm (30 stakes wins) needs two stakes wins for a share of Calumet Farmâ€™s all-time ownerâ€™s record (32).
2013 SEPTEMBER MEET LEADERS â€“ Jockey Wins: Corey Lanerie (19), Shaun Bridgmohan (14), Calvin Borel (8), Brian Hernandez Jr. (8) and Ricardo Santana Jr. (8) â€¦ Jockey Earnings: Corey Lanerie ($641,926), Shaun Bridgmohan ($522,477), Brian Hernandez Jr. ($324,739), Ricardo Santana Jr. ($304,402) and Rosie Napravnik ($301,098) â€¦ Trainer Wins: Steve Asmussen (8), Dale Romans (8), Mike Maker (7) and Steve Margolis (6) â€¦ Trainer Earnings: Dale Romans ($347,025), Steve Asmussen ($324,718), Mike Maker ($194,168), Steve Margolis ($183,115) and Ian Wilkes ($171,184) â€¦ Owner Wins: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (6) and Maggi Moss (4) â€¦ Owner Earnings: Ken and Sarah Ramsey ($163,998), Donegal Racing ($149,102), Winchell Thoroughbreds ($127,004), Janis Whitham ($120,424) and the Estate of Elaine Klein (Richard Klein) and Bert Klein ($94,742) â€¦ Horse Wins: Owl Moon (2), Turbalo (2) and Wild Target (2) â€¦ Horse Earnings: Fort Larned ($117,405), Cleburne ($102,044), Untapable ($101,125), Sky Girl ($67,518) and General Election ($67,079).
BIRTHDAYS â€“ Several Churchill Downs horsemen will celebrate birthdays in the month of September including Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas (79 on Sept. 2); trainer Steve Margolis (51 on Sept. 8); jockey Robby Albarado (41 on Sept. 11); trainer Dallas Stewart (55 on Sept. 15); former jockey Charlie Woods Jr. (64 on Sept. 14); jockey Greta Kuntzweiler (39 on Sept. 17); trainer Charlie LoPresti (57 on Sept. 21); and former jockey Shane Sellers (48 on Sept. 24).
HORSEMEN BREAKFAST â€“ All trainers are invited to join the Churchill Downs Racetrack management team for a complimentary breakfast in the Post Time Kitchen on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m.
Churchill Downs, the worldâ€™s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented Americaâ€™s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 2, 2015. Churchill Downsâ€™ September Meet is scheduled for Sept. 5-28 and its Fall Meet will run from Oct. 26-Nov. 30. The track has hosted the Breedersâ€™ Cup World Championships a record-tying eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at http://www.ChurchillDowns.com.