Live racing returns to the twin spires on Sunday, October 30, as Churchill Downs opens its fall meet. A lot will be going on at the Downs on Sunday to keep adult and child alike entertained.
For the adults, Churchill’s eleven-race card includes two graded stakes for two-year-olds: the Grade 2 Pocahontas for fillies and the Grade 3 Iroquois for colts. Some horses that have gone on to greatness have appeared in these races, including superstar Rachel Alexandra who was defeated by a filly named Sara Louise in the 2008 running of the Pocahontas. Astrology, who was thought to be Kentucky Derby bound, won last year’s running of the Iroquois.
For the kids, Churchill Downs’ mascot, Churchill Charlie, will be on hand to lead them on a trick-or-treat parade throughout the Downs. "Boo Stations" will be set up throughout the route with tricks and treats for all the kids. Costumes are strongly suggested, but not required to participate. Just register your child in the Churchill Downs gift shop located near Gate 17 between 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and pick up your trick-or-treat bag. Meet back at Gate 17 at 3:00 p.m. to line up and start the trick-or-treat parade. Pay attention after the trick-or-treating in case the kids are invited into the winner’s circle for a group photo as they were last year.
The Junior Jockey Club, which is normally open every weekend for kids under age 12, will not be open until after Breeders’ Cup weekend, or on November 12. Check out all the activities they have planned during the fall meet on their website.
For both the adults and the kids, the weekend before a major racing event at Churchill Downs often means that some trainers with horses in those big races may decide to use the crowd and noise to prepare their horses for a similar atmosphere on race day. The Breeders' Cup will be held at Churchill Downs next weekend, November 4 and 5. That means that you might get lucky enough to see some of the Breeders’ Cup contenders schooling in the paddock in-between Sunday’s races. Typically, the Breeders’ Cup contenders wear their purple Breeders’ Cup saddlecloths when they are out and about, so you should be able to tell who’s who.
Sunday is also Day 2 of Pigskins & Ponies weekend. Whether you’ve purchased the University of Louisville football and Churchill Downs Millionaire Row package or not, if you bring a ticket stub from Saturday’s U of L and Syracuse game to the Churchill Downs gate, you’ll get free track admission.
Photo: Jessie Oswald