Churchill's ‘Downs After Dark moves to Saturday night, it will be showcased every other Saturday in June at 6 P.M.
The biggest summer parties in Louisville return in earnest to Churchill Downs on Saturday night (June 2) at 6 p.m. ET as the home of the Kentucky Derby welcomes back its wildly-popular nighttime racing series, “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka.
The well-attended nighttime programs, which offer the perfect blend of an upscale night on the town with the excitement of Thoroughbred racing, return with a twist. They have a new home on the calendar and the quality of racing has been elevated.
Previously staged on Fridays over the final three weeks of the Spring Meet, Downs After Dark will be tested on every other Saturday night in June (June 2, June 16 and June 30). Also, the marquee entertainment events have been paired with stellar graded stakes racing action for the first time.
Saturday’s 11-race program includes a graded stakes tripleheader, and the June 16 program will feature four graded stakes races cumulatively worth $750,000, topped by the Grade I, $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap. The June 30 finale will showcase rising 2-year-old stars in the Grade III, $100,000 Bashford Manor.
“We’re eager to see how stakes races on each of our ‘Downs After Dark’ night racing programs enhance those Saturdays of racing under the lights,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.
The elements that have made the Downs After Dark parties special – the cuisine, fashion, style, music and entertainment – are back, and each of this year’s evening racing extravaganzas will have unique concepts: Remix (June 2) featuring bold colors with a nod to the 1980s; Desert Oasis (June 16) showcasing ornate gold, ambers, oranges and purples with a Middle Eastern feel; and The White Party (June 30), a white-hot party in which guests are encouraged to wear an all-white wardrobe.
Renowned and captivating DJs and bands will entertain paddock party-goers with some of the hottest dance music. Saturday night’s season premiere will showcase the return of the popular VJ 2nd Nature (8:30 p.m. to midnight) and Cincinnati-based cover band Off The Hook (4-8:30 p.m.).
Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 live races will begin at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern). The final race will be after 11 p.m. and the on-track party will continue in the paddock until midnight.
Desert Oasis: Influenced from Middle Eastern countries: ornate gold details, lush fabrics in hues of ambers, oranges and purples. Moroccan cabana around Aristides Garden, intimate cabanas, Moroccan rugs, lanterns, henna tattoo artists, belly dancers and sitar players.