The approval for the first night racing sessions in the 135-year history of Churchill Downs was granted by the KHRC during its regular meeting in Lexington, Ky. on Tuesday, April 7. The regulatory panel also approved a new 50-cent Pick 4 wager that will be offered at the track each day – including Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days – along with a new multi-day $1 Pick 3 wager that links three Grade I races conducted on Derby Weekend: the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the Kentucky Oaks and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
“This is a very important day for Churchill Downs and we appreciate the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s approval and enthusiasm for our night racing plan,” said Jim Gates, general manager of Churchill Downs. “Early reaction from our community, neighbors around the track and our horsemen to our night racing plans has been very positive, and we look forward to an exciting and historic night on June 19 when racing under the lights is conducted for the first time in the 135-year history of Churchill Downs. Now that we have approval to move ahead with night racing, we’ll finalize our plans to make these night racing programs special and memorable for everyone who joins us under the Twin Spires on those evenings.”
Churchill Downs plans 11 races on each of those night racing programs. The KHRC vote of approval of night racing also included the panel’s okay to amend its original racing dates request to add two races to its Thursday, July 2 to raise that evening’s number of races to 11, and reduce races scheduled for Friday, July 3 to nine.
The track plans for its night racing dates call for a post time for the evening’s first race at 6 p.m. (all times EDT). The racing program on Friday, July 3 will open with a first race post time of 2:45 p.m. Post times for the first race during the rest of the meet will be at 12:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. for its popular “Friday Happy Hour” programs that begin on Friday, May 8. Exceptions are on Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days, May 1-2, which will open with a first race on each day at 10:30 a.m.
Details of the new Churchill Downs wagers that received KHRC approval include:
50-Cent Pick 4 – Pick 4 bets will be available for just 50 cents – half of the current minimum wager of $1 – on all of those multi-race wagers offered during the meet... The Pick 4 is one of Churchill Downs’ most popular multi-race wagers and the 50-cent minimum bet should provide fans with a greater chance for success in that wager.
Oaks-Derby Pick 3 – This two-day wager was inspired by the success of the Oaks-Derby double, which requires bettors to correctly select the winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. The $1 minimum multi-day wager requires the patron to correctly select the winners of three Grade I events held annually on Oaks and Derby Days. Those races include the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 1; the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which is one of America’s top turf races and annually is the race that precedes the Kentucky Derby; and the “Run for the Roses.”