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Churchill Downs Kicks Off New Season of Night Racing Friday

by Stephanie Crosby

A new season of night racing gets underway tomorrow evening at Churchill Downs. It’s the first night racing event since the four-million dollar permanent lights were installed at the track.

Spokesperson Darren Rogers says they learned a lot from three night racing events last year under the temporary lights. He says they’re expecting even bigger crowds this year.

“We had that opening night faux pas last year where we were understaffed,” says Rogers, “we doubled the points of sale and tripled the staff for nights two and three, but we’ve even increased that this year.”

He says the number of concessions locations will be even higher this year, and there will be more vendors roaming the stands. Rogers says they’ve also hired more police officers to control traffic.

Tomorrow night’s theme is Disco at the Downs, and general admission is ten-dollars.

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Night Racing Dates Announced at Churchill Downs

Plans are being made for six nights of racing at Churchill Downs next year.

Officials at the historic track announced today that Iowa-based Musco Lighting has been selected to design and install permanent lights before the spring meet.

Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery says even though it will cost between three-and-four million dollars to install the lights, the track will have only six night racing events in 2010.

“I think the reason it was so special in the spring is because it was something unique,” says Flanery. “There are tracks around the country that run under the lights every night. It’s not what we had here. They don’t have what we had. We want something that’s special.”

Flanery says they’ll hold night racing on four Fridays in June and July, Halloween night and a Friday in November.

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Churchill Downs To Install Permanent Lights

The home of the Kentucky Derby will have permanent lights installed for night racing.

Churchill Downs officials announced Monday that the lights will be ready in time for the 2010 spring meet.

Three experimental night racing cards last summer using temporary lights were a success, drawing a total of nearly 90,000 fans. Churchill Downs nighttime view

Churchill Downs spokesperson Liz Harris says it hasn’t been determined how many night racing dates will be included in the next spring meet.

“We want to make sure than when we going to invest this money, then the next step will be to poll the fans and poll the horsemen, to make sure we pick a nice little combination that everyone is comfortable with,”
Harris said.

There are no plans to move the post time for the 2010 Kentucky Derby on May 1.

Harris declined to disclose the estimated cost of the permanent lights, as the track is in the process of obtaining bids.

(Photo by Reed Palmer Photography, taken from www.churchilldowns.com)