Fans party Friday night at first Downs after Dark since tornado trashed backside

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by Mike Colombo

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 25, 2011 at 12:02 AM

Updated Saturday, Jun 25 at 8:22 AM

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WHAS11)--When the idea was crafted for Downs after Dark, it had to have been this kind of night the people here at Churchill Downs had in mind; beautiful weather, beautiful surroundings, and beautiful horses.

While race fans partied Friday night, Mother Nature had her party Wednesday night, trashing the backside of Churchill downs like the hotel room of a touring rock band.  “I heard it and I just ran. That’s all I could do was run,” said Eric Parker, groom for trainer Joe Woodland at barn 15.  “All I was worried about was looking after those horses. I didn’t want any of them getting loose,” said Parker.

In the frantic minutes after the twister passed, Parker got his first glimpse at the storms power.  “I ran up here and Joe’s friend Cal said ‘look at that board’.  I came in the barn and if it hadn’t have been for this board here, it might have gone through him [the horse],” said Parker

The wooden spear pierced through the roof of barn 15, coming inches from Squander.  Of all the destruction to the backside at Churchill Downs this was the only damage to barn 15.  “I ain’t never seen anything like it,” added Parker.

Now just days after the storm, “He’s feeling good,” said Parker about Squander; ready to run.  “I think it woke him up a little bit.”  …And maybe even chosen to win.
 

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