For the first time ever, Churchill Downs is holding live racing in September. The 12-day meet has been dubbed the Homecoming Meet and will bring spectacular racing to town each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the month of September. The meet marks the first time in the track’s 139 years that it has held three meets within the same year. The meet includes eight stakes races—all on Saturdays—with half of the stakes races occurring this Saturday. The Homecoming meet runs through Sept. 29. The regular fall meet opens Oct. 27.
The meet opens Friday, Sept. 6 with a 10-race card and first post of 1:45 p.m. This Friday and every Friday during the meet fans can partake in the “City’s Best Happy Hour” that features drink specials, live music, and area food trucks from 3-7 p.m. in the Paddock Plaza.
On Saturday, Downs After Dark returns with a late first post of 6 p.m. The theme for Saturday’s program is college rivalry night and fans are asked to come dressed in their favorite college gear. Expect the iconic Twin Spires to be aglow in team colors as well. As fans enter the gates Saturday, they will be asked which Kentucky school they support. The top three schools with the most support will each receive $10,000 in scholarship funds.
Saturday’s 11-race card includes four graded stakes–the Pocahontas (G2), the Iroquois (G3), the Locust Grove Handicap (G3), and the Ack Ack Handicap (G3). Another first, the Pocahontas Stakes, for two-year-old fillies, and the Iroquois Stakes, for two-year-old colts and geldings, have been deemed Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In races. As a Win & You’re In race, the winner of the Pocahontas will earn an automatic berth in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) that will run at Santa Anita Park in California Nov. 1. The winner of the Iroquois will earn an automatic berth in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) that will run the following day, Nov. 2. The Pocahontas and the Iroquois are also the first stops on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and Road to the Kentucky Derby, respectively. The top four finishers in each of the two races will earn points toward an entry in May’s Kentucky Oaks or Kentucky Derby.
Every Sunday is Family Fun Day at Churchill Downs with special events geared towards kids. This Sunday fans can find Honey Hill Farms and its mobile petting zoo in the Paddock Plaza; Cookies & Canvas on the Plaza Balcony; and kids can decorate a megaphone or pennant flag in the Junior Jockey Club. Of course, Family Fun Day is not complete without a visit from Churchill Charlie, the track mascot, so keep an eye peeled for him in the area.
If your weekend is too busy to include a trip to Churchill Downs for opening weekend of its inaugural Homecoming Meet, check the Churchill Downs calendar for details on the remaining days of the meet.
Days of Meet: Friday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 29 (No racing Monday – Thursday).
Post Time: Fridays: 1:45 p.m. (Gates open at 12:30 p.m.), Saturdays (except Sept. 7 & Sept. 28): 12:45 p.m. (Gates open at 11:30 a.m.), and Sundays: 12:45 p.m. (Gates open at 11:30 a.m.) All times EDT.
Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka: Sept. 7 & Sept. 28. First Post at 6 p.m. EDT (Gates open at 4 p.m. EDT). Themes: Sept. 7 – College Rivalry Night; Sept. 28 – Homecoming Dance: A Night to Remember.
September Meet Stakes Schedule
Sept. 7: $150,000 Pocahontas (GII) – 2-Year-Old Fillies at 1 1/16 Miles
Sept. 7: $150,000 Iroquois (GIII) – 2-Year-Olds at 1 1/16 Miles
Sept. 7: $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) – 3-Year-Olds & Up at 1 Mile
Sept. 7: $100,000 Locust Grove – Fillies & Mares at 1 1/16 Miles
Sept. 14: $100,000 Open Mind – Fillies & Mares at 6 Furlongs
Sept. 21: $100,000 Dogwood (GIII) – 3-Year-Old Fillies at 7 Furlongs
Sept. 28: $175,000 Homecoming Classic – 3-Year-Olds & Up at 1 1/8 Miles
Sept. 28: $100,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII) – 3-Year-Olds at 1 Mile on Turf
Photo: J.Oswald. Home page pgoto: Courtesy Churchill Downs/Dan Dry