LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The record heat forced some big changes at Churchill Downs this week. They moved the last races of the spring meet to the evening hours. But, that’s not the only change.
It’s been a spring full of firsts for Churchill Downs.
“Definitely one for the books,” Vice President of Race Communications John Asher said, “I’m anxious to sit down and you know, write the story of this meet when it’s over with because we’ve had some amazing firsts.”
Click here to see the new schedule of race times.
There was hail on opening night, evacuating the infield on Oaks Day because of storms, a record Derby crowd, and Thursday, cancelling races for the first time in track history because of dangerously high temperatures.
“It was our best option to deal with the heat. It’s unprecedented heat in terms of what we’ve had to deal with here in the city and at Churchill Downs certainly,” Asher said.
The crew at Churchill is learning to roll with the punches. Instead of letting the oppressive heat put a stop to the last days of the spring meet, they just pushed post times back to 6:30 p.m. each day.
Another problem has cropped up at the track, especially during the relatively new Downs after Dark, underage race fans getting their hands on alcohol.
“We did see, we thought early last year, some numbers of underage kids that were doing some things they shouldn’t be doing here so we tightened things up last year and it is now an 18 and over event,” explained Asher.
Asher said with every event, they learn new ways to tighten security. Beyond their own team, they’ve got LMPD officers who keep an eye out for problems. Anyone under the age of 18 will have to be accompanied by a parent to get into Downs after Dark. IDs will be checked at the gates.