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Volume 24 No. 117
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Churchill Downs Set To Open Spring Meet Under The Lights For First Time

The opening of Churchill Downs' Spring Meet on Saturday “will be a nighttime affair, complete with live music between races and an attempt to re-create the buzz of the Derby's red carpet,” according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Moving the event, which had been held during the day, to night is part of CDI’s effort to “take what is traditionally a good day and make it into a standout evening under its recently installed lights -- a reflection of the company's broader strategy of singling out a few race days for improvement at all four of its tracks.” CDI officials are “preparing for the track's biggest crowd for any night racing card,” which would mean attendance of “more than 33,481.” Track President Kevin Flanery said advance sales are “beyond my expectations.” A track spokesperson said that “all indoor dining-area seating” is sold out. Racegoers “can enter on a red carpet,” and a band and DJ “will entertain in the paddock area, which will be decked out with bunting and extra lighting.” CDI President & CEO Bob Evans said that he “doesn't know how many other racing days are out there that can be made special -- particularly for a meet as long as Churchill's, stretching from late April and ending July 4.” But he added, “We'll keep trying.” Flanery said that a July 4 “nighttime ending has been considered, but doing it would depend on which day of the week the holiday falls on” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/29).