Churchill Downs in Louisville opens its annual 11-day September Meet on Friday as the track begins preparations for hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this November.
Action begins with a 10-race program Friday. First post is 12:45 p.m.
The September Meet features racing Friday through Sunday this weekend and Thursday through Sunday the next two weekends, ending on Sept. 30. First post each day is 12:45 p.m., with the exceptions of Sept. 20 (5 p.m.), Sept. 27 (5 p.m.) and Sept. 29 (6 p.m.).
The September Meet includes nine stakes races totaling $1.125 million in purses. Two of those races, the Grade 3, $150,000 Iroquois and the Grade 2, $200,000 Pocahontas are the first points races of the season on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively.
Both races are also Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In Challenge events, which means the winners receive automatic berths in Breeders’ Cup races to be held Nov. 2-3 at Churchill Downs.
Director of racing Ben Huffman called the 2-year-old races “a mini stars of tomorrow” in a Churchill news release.
Two additional stakes races are scheduled for Saturday: The Grade 3, $100,000 Locust Grove and the $100,000 Open Mind.
The Churchill Downs September Meet began in 2013 by request from Kentucky horsemen to provide area horse owners, trainers and jockeys viable racing and prize money in the lead-up to the Keeneland (Oct. 5-27) and Churchill Downs (Oct. 28-Nov. 25) fall meets.
“A big part of the Breeders’ Cup being here at Churchill Downs is that we are going to have a lot of people that are trying to get a run over this track,” Huffman said in the news release. “When Breeders’ Cup is here, that always helps your stakes races.”
When: Sept. 14-30
Where: Churchill Downs
Live racing: Friday through Sunday this weekend. Thursday through Sunday the following two weekends.