Churchill to host six dates of night racing

Following the popularity of a three-date venture last summer, Churchill Downs announced Tuesday it will stage six "Downs After Dark" racing programs under the lights in 2010.

The announcement was made during a news conference that also revealed Musco Lighting as the winning contract bidder to install permanent track lighting at Churchill Downs and a new online platform for patrons to buy tickets to the track.

Churchill Downs will host its Downs After Dark programs on the final four Fridays of the 42-date Spring Meet and two evening cards during the 20-date Fall Meet, including opening night.

Churchill first experimented with night racing when temporary lights were installed this past summer. The average attendance was 29,705.

On July 2, the final night-racing date, 33,481 fans turned out — the largest crowd for a Churchill Downs racing program other than a Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks or Breeders' Cup.

"We want to keep Downs After Dark a special and unique experience for our fans," Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said in a statement.

General admission to all Downs After Dark events will be $10, and a special discounted general admission pass for entrance on all six nights is available for $45.

This past summer, members of the Twin Spires Club could get into the night-racing programs for $1. But Darren Rogers, senior director of communications for Churchill Downs, said other pricing plans have not been finalized for 2010.

Churchill also unveiled an online box office that allows patrons to view, choose and buy reserved seat locations throughout the facility, including the Matt Winn Dining Room, third-floor box seats, Millionaires Row, Jockey Club Suites, Finish Line Suites and Skye Terrace.