LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The gates are now open and 'Downs After Dark' night racing will continue until 11 PM Friday night.
Churchill Downs says they aren't exactly sure what numbers to expect.
"Downs After Dark is geared towards horse players and entertainment seekers and we've drawn an entirely new fan base," said Churchill Downs spokesman Darren Rogers.
In the last two years, during the warmer months, the night races have seen crowds of around 30,000, but now it's back and in a whole new season.
"We're not really certain how many people are going to show up this evening, but we are guardedly optimistic and prepared for crowds as large as 25,000," said Darren.
Behind the scenes, crews worked hard gearing up the paddock for a party, with some fall twists.
"We are bringing in some heat lamps, so the folks can be a little warmer as it could be a little chilly tonight," said Brent Rogers, owner of Sound Unlimited Productions.
"We've also added some specialty drinks, a great example is Woodford Reserve hot chocolate, we think that will be a big seller," said Darren.
The Endless Summer Band will play until 7 and then a DJ will take the reins. Darren Rogers says fans can still expect an 11 race program.
"It's almost an outdoor night club with horse racing going on in the background," said Darren.
He says there is still time to get out to Churchill Downs and participate in the "Mad about Plaid" theme.
"They're going to see a lot of plaid in this paddock tonight and it is all going to be done through some lighting. I think it is very exciting, it has never been done here at Churchill Downs," said Brent Rogers.
The last race will hit the track under the lights at 9:36, but the party won't stop there, it continues until 11 PM.
"Whether there is 15,000 or 30,000 out here tonight we are going to have a blast," said Brent.
Admission is $10 and there is free parking at Gate 10. All other parking lots are $3.
(Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.)
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