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The Kentucky Derby is officially one month away which means opening day for Churchill Downs is just around the corner. For the very first time, Churchill Downs' Spring Meet will open with night racing. Churchill Downs is billing the April 30th event as "Opening Night" and will have much of the same stylish elements and music as in previous night racing events. However, this IS the start of Derby week in Louisville which calls for a little more pizzazz than in typical night racing events. In honor of the occasion, E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic and her husband, first-year "The Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic, will perform as emcees and conduct Red Carpet arrival interviews at Gates 10 and 17; World-renowned DJ and satellite radio host Clinton Sparks will provide entertainment in the paddock beginning at 9:00 PM; and Kentucky native and designer to the stars, Bradley Picklesimer, will design the festive scene.

WAVE 3 will host a special one-hour live broadcast of the event from 9:00 - 10:00 PM, focusing on the eighth race on the night's card, the Grade 3 The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial. Theoretically, this race could produce a Kentucky Derby starter, but in recent years, the Triple Crown race its runners typically progress to is the Preakness Stakes in mid-May. 

"The suggested wardrobe for ‘Opening Night’ is cocktail chic and fashionable headwear, much like Oaks and Derby,” Churchill Downs’ vice president of Brand Development and Marketing, Casey Cook, said in the press release.

Simulcast wagering will be open normal hours for the day beginning at 11:30 AM - 4:00 PM with admission of $3.00. At 4:00 PM, Churchill Downs will open for Opening Night and increase the admission price to $10.00. All parking lots will open at 3:00 PM, with the first live race scheduled for 6:00 PM. If you've ever been to night racing at Churchill Downs on a Friday night, you know that people tend to arrive after work and the Longfield parking lot is full by the second race. Since Opening Night is on a Saturday when more people are off work, you may want to plan to arrive earlier than usual to avoid parking issues. To handle the overflow parking, Churchill Downs will offer free parking and shuttles from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium beginning at 4:00 PM .

Photo: Courtesy Jessie Oswald


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About Jessie Oswald

I'm a lifetime Louisville resident with a passion for horse racing. When I'm not working as an immigration paralegal or taking care of my family, I follow Thoroughbred racing and love to share the excitement and beauty of the sport with anyone willing to learn!

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