LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - More than a quarter of a million people will pack Churchill Downs for Kentucky Oaks and Derby weekend, pushing up the daily attendance of the Spring Meet. In the fall, Thanksgiving, night racing and, some years, the Breeders' Cup draw people to the track. Now Churchill is adding another meet, hoping to draw us in during the busy back-to-school season.
When you think September sports, most of us think football. This fall, Churchill Downs hopes you'll huddle at the track as well.
"We're going to have to cut through the clutter a little bit," said Darren Rogers, Churchill Downs communications director.
For the first time in more than 100 years, Churchill is planning an all-September meet. The third meet on the track's schedule will give horses, their owners and trainers a place to race in the early fall.
"Once they come here to Kentucky in the spring, you've got Keeneland and Churchill then they are shipping over to Evansville to run at Ellis Park," Rogers said.
Typically next horses would go to Turfway, but the financially-trouble Northern Kentucky track slashed its races by almost half in 2013.
"These horsemen were having to leave the state for other opportunities," Rogers said. "After all, this is a business and they're running a business. As much as they'd like to race here business comes first."
So that's what it means for Churchill and the horses: 12 new days of races and stability on the Kentucky racing circuit. What does it mean for us?
"There will be some nighttime racing events mixed in, some great stakes racing, we'll have plenty of happy hours action," Rogers said, "make it a fun experience."
Keep in mind the track and Papa John's Cardinal Stadium are pretty close together. That's why Churchill officials said they plan on working around UofL football games Rogers said there may be some tailgating tie-ins as well.