I attended my very first "Downs After Dark" at Churchill Downs this past Saturday night. I adore horse racing, but I honestly don't think of it much besides Derby time and maybe once in the Fall. Night races have always been on my radar, but never had the pleasure until now. The Down opens at 4 pm and the first race goes off at 6 pm. The most common tickets range from $10-$20 and Clubhouse starting at $60. Downs After Dark always has a fun theme, such as;The White Party, Awesome 80's and BBQ and Boots. My girlfriend,Amy Higgs and I made special note to the Star Spangled Banner theme when it came to our outfits. I wore a vintage white and red striped sun dress from Yesternook, navy and white polka dot gloves from Nitty Gritty and a 'Rebecca Simpson" fascinator. My partner in "chic" crime followed suit with a stunning red dress and sexy ivory heels.
Arriving at Churchill Downs around 6:30 pm left us with limited parking options under $20, but luckily (being in a MINI Cooper) found a small spot not far for only $15. Next time, we will try to arrive earlier and maybe check out other gates. I heard rumors that gate 10 was the magic spot for a plethora of inexpensive parking, which would have come in handy when we were leaving in the rain. NOTE: Shoes did come off for the quick sprint out to the car.
Amy and I had Clubhouse Balcony tickets, which didn't mean much to us, as race track novices. We were told they were swanky and that we should get fancy. Fashion challenge accepted. After a bit of a wild goose chase, as to how to get to "The Clubhouse", we discovered our balcony on the fourth and/or fifth floor. I think if the weather would have cooperated, this would have been the jam. They had contemporary red, white and blue lounge seating, two bars and the best view of the whole track. But, with the temp dropping and the wind giving us all a "Marilyn Monroe" moment... we did not last long on the balcony. Amy and I ventured downstairs to the paddock to check out the scene. Two single ladies need to investigate all the hot spots.
The cool thing about the paddock area and the track in general is that everyone has their own look and unique style. We saw everything from flowing and flirty dresses to Argyle golf pants with suspenders to sweat pants and t-shirts from the gas station. It's safe to say anything goes. It reminded me a lot of Vegas, which makes sense. I felt at home on the paddock among the energetic crowd. I could people watch for days at The Downs.
Stella Artois, one of my favorite beers was a big sponsor. I saw people walking around with glasses of Stella, which cost the same as the can ($5.50). Hello, nice momento. I could see Brown Forman brands and Stella as far as the eye could see, which made me gave me the warm and fuzzies. While clutching my ice cold beer with my navy gloves, I could see the storm clouds rolling in. We were able to make under cover just in the nick of time We also, had a great view of the giant outdoor TV screens to cheer on our friends bet! Go #6!!! The rain did not ruin the night for these party goers.
The Downs After Dark will pick back up in September 7 on Saturday. I know I plan to attend and cannot wait for the announcement of the theme. If you have not had a chance to check this Louisville event, I would highly recommend putting it on the "COOL STUFF TO DO LIST."
Photo: Rebecca Simpson