LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It was a historic night at Churchill Downs Friday. After 135 years of racing, Churchill Downs premiered night races.
Churchill Downs officials say an estimated 28,011 people packed the track for "Downs After Dark" for the 11-race card. The post for the first race was at 6 p.m. The post for the last race was at 11:11p.m. About 104 horses entered to race at "Downs After Dark."
Friday night was the first of three trial races. The next two are on Friday, June 26th and Thursday, July 2nd. Staff members dressed up Churchill Downs. It was a big party, with the Paddock decorated as if people were at an upscale nightclub.
Calvin Borel said he hoped lots of people would turn out for the event. He rode in 8 of the 11 races. While night racing may be a new experience for the fans, Borel said it was nothing new for him. "I rode at night before when I started 8 years ago, I rode at night. It's a little different atmosphere, you know, I mean. I think people around Churchill will get into it."
General admission tickets for Downs After Dark were $10. Twin Spires Club members and seniors paid just $1. Season pass holders were honored at the admission gates. Reserved seating was $15.
If you want to purchase tickets for Friday, June 26 or Thursday, July 2nd the price for general admission will drop to $6.
Kim and Mike Tidd attended "Downs After Dark." It was the first time the couple had seen a race at Churchill Downs. The pair said they drove from Ohio for their 23rd anniversary. "I was really interested in coming," Kim said. "I thought that would be really nice. I didn't know that this was the first night race. So, it's kind of neat and make a little bit of history."
As the sun set and a darkness blanketed the sky, "Downs After Dark" took life. Sean Terry said he did not want to miss coming to the track on such a historic night. "Anything to help them, because right now they're facing tough times," he said.