Churchill Downs hoping to get night racing

Posted: April 02, 2009

Horse racing fans may hear the bugler's "Call to the Post" under the lights for the first time at Churchill Downs.

The home of the Kentucky Derby is hoping to bring in temporary lights to experiment with 3 nights of racing for the upcoming spring meet. Churchill is seeking approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which meets next Tuesday.

Track spokesman John Asher said yesterday that Churchill wants to "test the waters" with nighttime racing June 19 and June 26 - both Fridays - and Thursday, July 2.

First post would be 6 p.m., and the 11 races each night would continue until about 11 p.m., he said.

"We all look for ways to bring people to the race track," Asher said. "With night racing, you've got the possibility of bringing some people to the track that might be working during the day."

Churchill considered installing permanent lights as part of a sweeping renovation of the track. But the lights were cut from the $121 million project, completed in 2005.

Any dabbling in night racing would not be done with an eye toward its most famous race, Asher said.

"Churchill Downs is not contemplating night racing with the Kentucky Derby in mind," he said.

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