The show must go on, even amidst the cleanup from a tornado over the Churchill Downs backside. After a confirmed tornado touched down over the Churchill Downs backside Wednesday night, track officials cancelled Thursday's scheduled live racing, simulcasting, and training. Nine barns were damaged, with trainer Steve Margolis' barn receiving the most damage. Horses and backside workers were displaced from their homes, and the track chapel was damaged.
However, Churchill Downs' planned night racing event, Downs After Dark, will go on as scheduled tonight. According to Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery, track officials met with the horsemen on Thursday and were given their support to resume live racing with the Downs After Dark program.
The theme for the evening is “Cool Summer Nights,” which will highlight cool blue and turquoise colors with water and lit star shapes featured throughout the grounds. DJ Rap, one of the world's top-rated female DJs, will spin the jams in the paddock area from 9 PM until midnight. There will also be a Bet or No Bet Sweepstakes in which four fans will get a chance to either place a $1,000 win wager on a horse of his or her choosing or pocket a $100 Thornton’s gift card.
A new promotion titled, ti “Pony Up For Charity” is scheduled for the evening in which customers may elect to ask their server to add or “Pony Up” a dollar or more to their food and beverage tab throughout the night. The event was planned prior to Thursday's storm, but originally, the featured charity for Friday was New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. After Thursday's storm damage, Friday night's donations will instead go to the track's storm victims. Patrons who “Pony Up” will receive a commemorative sticker, “I PONIED UP FOR CHARITY” with the Churchill Charities black and red horse head logo. Churchill Charities will designate the July 1 Downs After Dark “Pony Up for Charity” event to benefit the New Vocations program.
Gates open at 4:00 PM with the first post at 6:00 PM and last post just after 11:00 PM. Admission is $10. Be sure to pick up your Bet or No Bet entry at the gate, enjoy DJ Rap's entertainment in the paddock until midnight, and don't forget to "Pony Up!"
Photo: courtesy Churchill Downs