LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs will present 22 stakes events that total $7.01 million during the second half of the year.
The 12-date September Meet (Sept. 16-Oct. 3) will showcase 11 stakes races cumulatively worth $3.26 million, and the 21-date Fall Meet (Oct. 31-Nov. 28) will have 11 stakes events that total $3.75 million.
Racing at Churchill Downs during the 2021 September and Fall meets will be exclusively run on the main dirt track. In July, Churchill Downs closed its stable area to install a new $10 million turf course that will be ready for turf racing to resume at the start of the 2022 Spring Meet.
Horsemen can return to Churchill Downs for stabling on Wednesday, Sept. 8 and the main track will be open for training the following day.
The stakes schedule for the ninth annual September Meet will begin in primetime under the lights on Saturday, Sept. 18 with a quintet of races, including two important 1 1/16-mile fixtures for juveniles that could produce starters in next spring’s Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). The $300,000 Iroquois (GIII) kicks off the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series (Top 4 Points: 10-4-2-1), while the $300,000 Pocahontas (GII) starts the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” (Top 4 Points: 10-4-2-1). Also, both races are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge events, which means the winners will receive automatic berths in the starting gate for their respective Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 5 at Del Mar with full entry fees and travel expenses paid.
Distaff and Filly & Mare Sprint prospects may surface in a pair of Sept. 18 stakes for fillies and mares, the $400,000 Locust Grove (GIII) over 1 1/16 miles and the $300,000 Open Mind (Listed) at six furlongs.
The $275,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society, an open sprint for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs, wraps the Sept. 18 “Downs After Dark” stakes-laden program. It is one of six newly created races. The others are the $275,000 Bourbon Trail (3-year-olds at 1 3/16 miles) on Sept. 25; $275,000 Harrods Creek (3-year-olds at seven furlongs) on Sept. 25; $160,000 Seneca Overnight Stakes (3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles) on Oct. 1; $200,000 Lively Shively (2-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs) on Nov. 27; and $200,000 Fern Creek (2-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs) on Nov. 27.
Other marque events during the September Meet include the $275,000 Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Sept. 25. The eventual Champion Female Sprinter Covfefe used the race in 2019 as a springboard to a successful run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) at Santa Anita.
Closing weekend for the September Meet is anchored by the $400,000 Lukas Classic (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles and honors Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the iconic four-time winner of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and conditioner of 26 Eclipse Award-winning champions who has been based at Churchill Downs’ Barn 44 since 1989.
Also run on Saturday, Oct. 2 is the $300,000 Ack Ack (GIII) for Dirt Mile prospects.
Churchill Downs’ 132nd Fall Meet, which follows Keeneland’s Fall Meet in Lexington, is once again anchored by the $750,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare (GI). The 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds and up on “Black Friday,” Nov. 26 annually lures some of the top horses in North America and is one of six stakes events to be contested over Thanksgiving weekend.
Churchill Downs Press Release
Photo of Churchill Downs by Coady Photography