Churchill Downs will be the latest American race track to take the plunge into night racing when the track holds its first card ever under the lights. Should be interesting to see how they fare. As we all know, they are traditionalists in Kentucky when it comes to their horse racing, but they’re going to give this a whirl. Hey, if baseball under the lights flies at Wrigley Field, why not Churchill’s “Downs After Dark” experiment.
An update on the venture from the track’s publicity department:
So, what do you do if you are saddling a horse in the nightcap, scheduled for 11:11 p.m. (all times EDT), in the historic debut of Churchill Downs’ “Downs After Dark” night racing?
“I guess I’ll sleep on the couch (at the barn) that night,” trainer William “Buff” Bradley said with a laugh.
Con Lover is in Friday’s finale and will be Bradley’s only starter on the 11-race card that begins at 6 p.m. A regular on the Kentucky circuit, Bradley is a veteran of night racing at Turfway Park.
“I would usually stay up there if we were in a late race,” Bradley said. “I never thought I would see lights here, and if it works, fine. We need to do whatever we can to boost racing.”
One of the effects of the night card for Bradley will be adjusting work schedules, including barn star Brass Hat, winner of the recent Louisville Handicap (Grade III) and earner of more than $1.8 million.
“I am going to work him Friday instead of Saturday, and that (the night card) is one of the reasons,” Bradley said. “I have a few that will work longer and harder and then will walk for two days, so we won’t have so many going to the track Saturday.”