September meet about to open at Churchill Downs - WDRB 41 Louisville News

September meet about to open at Churchill Downs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - -Churchill Downs says it is another entertainment option for September.  The track hopes to overcome football fever in the region with special events during a new racing card.

The historic twin spires of Churchill Downs will be the site of a 12-day racing meet that will run Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the four weekends of September.

On Tuesday crews were assembling a giant TV screen next to the paddock getting ready for Friday's opening day of the new meet.

"This is the first time in Churchill Downs history we've had three separate race meets during a calendar year," says Downs spokesman Darren Rogers, "and the first time since the 1890s that we have had racing in the month of September."

On the backside, the barns are filling up. "I think it is a great idea," says assistant trainer Kristal Campbell. "It lets the horsemen have plenty of options, they can stay here instead of having to ship out everywhere."

Downs management knows that with football having high interest around the region, attracting racing fans during a new meet will be more of a challenge that an the spring and late fall.

So this Saturday will be promoted as college rivalry night.  It will kick off the first of two Downs After Dark nighttime racing events. Fans will be encouraged to wear their favorite school colors.

"When you come through the admission gates," explains Rogers, "we will asked you a simple question, and that is, which team are your for; and the school with the most votes is going to get $10,000 in scholarships, so the kids benefit."

And on September 14, when U of L and UK have their big showdown, racing fans will be able to watch the game on the big video screen at the track.  "The audio and video of that game will be on that screen exclusively," says Rogers. "This will be great place to come and watch the Governor's Cup and cheer your favorite team.

The new racing dates at the Downs come because Turfway Park in northern Kentucky no longer has September racing.  Churchill Downs says it can offer higher purses and hopes racing in September is here to stay.  "We've applied for the same dates in 2014 and hope to build on this tradition," says Rogers.

While many racetracks across the country are struggling, Churchill Downs is trying to stay ahead of the pack by adding racing this month.

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