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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- It has become second only to the Derby and Oaks in popularity -- it's the opening Saturday night of the Spring Meet.
Workers are everywhere on the track, as the Downs prepares for what will be its third opening night at the track. 30,000 people showed up two years ago. A hailstorm cut the crowd down to about 20,000 last year. The track is hoping for a new record this year if the weather stays decent.
The biggest change the track is making is just inside Gate One. The new plaza is a 30,000 square foot space created when the Paddock Pavilion was torn down. "It's a wide open space," says John Asher, Churchill Downs spokesman. "It's got a stage there, we'll have musical performances and a DJ on opening night, we've got a big screen that 's going up there. That's going to be a new focal point for activity here, but that over the past week and a half has really been a center of activity here, and of course just the basic things, getting all the paint in the right places when you're getting ready for opening day, getting all the chairs in place, just making sure everything is clean and ready to go."
One new feature we will not see tomorrow night is that new luxury suite called The Mansion. It's not quite finished, and when it is, it'll be used only for Oaks and Derby.
The special security announced for Oaks and Derby will not be in place Saturday night, but your bags and belongings may be subject to search. Gates open at 4 p.m.