Your Churchill Downs experience just improved in a big way. Now you can attend the races at the track and watch the proceedings on TV at the same time, from almost any vantage point.
Yes, I have memories of Churchill Downs as more of a quaint setting — in the 70s the Spires weren’t dwarfed by a big building, there was more grass than concrete in the Infield, and the only music you’d hear all day was the Call to the Post. I remember straining to see, or having to walk to a different vantage point, to see the odds.
I say it’s all better now. I like being able to watch the races on big-screen TVs, having a clear view of the odds board from any spot on the grounds, and having a rock and roll band playing out back. The big screen, unveiled on schedule at 8 Saturday night, was a spectacular addition to the fan experience.
WDRB’s Eric Crawford wrote about this at length, noting the reality of what the track is today — an entertainment complex ready to compete with (and join, if our crotchety legislature would get its act together) casino complexes that seem to make money AND produce a sellable product.
The mammoth video board behind the backstretch further clutters a once sacred landscape, just as the light stanchions did before, and the corporate tents on the infield, and the advertisements on the barn roofs.
But no one’s clamoring to go back to daylight-only racing, or to tear down any of the millions in construction in recent years, and I can’t figure out who would complain about the magnificent new TV. Watching a few of the live races from a 3rd-floor box, seeing the unfolding of the race from start to finish makes the racing that much more exciting. To complain about this level of progress seems as silly as longing for a 19-inch black-and-white TV.
I took a few shots of the new screen, and some other interesting happenings, at Opening Night at Churchill.
Please consider listening to the current Rusty Satellite Show, with guests Anthony Lamas and Dick Wilson, for other perspectives on the big race, And coming Thursday, Rusty’s special Derby edition features Jockeys Guild rep Darrell Haire and America’s Chief Entertaining Officer, Tim Laird.