Published November 18, 2009
|Churchill Downs Installing $3-4M Permanent
Lights Before Next Year's Spring Meet
Churchill Downs yesterday announced that it will "stage six night-time racing programs in 2010 under permanent lights that will be installed before the spring meet," according to Jennie Rees of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Two of those races "will be during the fall meet, including Halloween, which is a Sunday and opening day." They will be the "first fall cards held under lighting in track history." The '10 Breeders' Cup is "not part of the programs billed as 'Downs After Dark.'" The night schedule "calls for four straight Fridays -- June 11, 18, 25 and July 2 -- in the spring and Oct. 31 and Nov. 19 in the fall." The dates still "must be approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, but that's largely a formality." Churchill Downs announced that Musco Lighting is the "winning contract bidder to install permanent lighting." Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said that the "cost for the lights will be between" $3-4M. That cost "includes more than 1,000 light fixtures, more than twice as many as are used at" the Univ. of Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The project is expected "to be completed by March 31." Flanery said that there are "no immediate plans to run the Kentucky Derby under the lights and that the focus is to 'get this right first.'" He also said that the track "has not had 'any formal conversations' with the Breeders' Cup about running any of the two-day race card under lights" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/18
). DAILY RACING FORM's Marty McGee noted night racing under temporary lights was "offered on three occasions at the 2009 spring meet and met with spectacular results, drawing an average of nearly 30,000 people per night" (DRF.com, 11/17
CHOOSE YOUR OWN SEAT: The THOROUGHBRED TIMES' Frank Angst noted Churchill Downs yesterday also announced the launch of a Web site, www.tickets.churchilldowns.com, that "will allow fans to purchase exact reserved seat locations as well as advance general admission tickets for events like the Derby, Oaks, and night racing cards" (THOROUGHBREDTIMES.com, 11/17).