Opening Night’s Third Annual Celebration of Local Arts Scene Kicks Off Derby Week and Spring Racing

Wear Orange for Creativity, Enjoy Live Arts Performance and Witness the Fourth Annual William Walker Stakes

LOUISVILLE, KY (April 18, 2018) – Churchill Downs and Fund for the Arts have joined forces for the third year to kick off Derby Week by celebrating Louisville’s extraordinary arts scene and live racing at Opening Night presented by Budweiser. The theme of this year’s Opening Night party on Saturday, April 28 is orange. It will feature live arts performances throughout the track and the third annual William Walker Stakes. Tickets are available at

In honor of the evening’s celebration of local arts, guests are encouraged to include orange in their outfits because it represents creativity and encouragement. Orange will also be incorporated into the décor throughout the racetrack.

“Fund for the Arts is proud to partner with Churchill Downs to provide a special, transformative event with a wide range of extraordinary arts experiences,” said Christen Boone, president and CEO of Fund for the Arts. “The arts are the cornerstone of Greater Louisville’s culture, so what better environment to showcase and celebrate the unique, diverse arts community that sets our city apart than at Churchill Downs, kicking off the most exciting week of the year here in Louisville?”

The evening’s featured musical acts on the Plaza Stage are The Jesse Lees from 7:15 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. and The Louisville Crashers from 9:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. Guests will also enjoy dynamic and interactive live arts performances at every turn of the racetrack and on Churchill Downs’ Big Board, including musical performances, live painting, drama and more. Participating artists were chosen for how they incorporate orange into their performance in creative and exciting ways.

2018 Opening Night Performing Artists

  • Acting Against Cancer
  • Amberly Simpson & Dancers
  • Bohemian Monkey
  • Bri Bowers
  • Casey McKinney
  • CirqueLouis
  • DESTINED Dance Company
  • Gilbert and Sullivan Society
  • Grant Goodwine
  • GSA Alumni
  • Jecorey “1200” Arthur + Pianist Nada
  • Juggernaut Jug Band
  • The Art of Kacy
  • Kentucky Opera
  • Kentucky Shakespeare
  • Kuvebo! West African Drum and Dance
  • Micah Chandler – violinist
  • Tatiana Rathke + Jennifer Greb
  • The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Louisville
  • Tyler Robertson
  • Wheeler Elementary Students

The third annual running of the $100,000 William Walker Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, will be the evening’s featured racing event. William “Billy” Walker Sr., one of Churchill Downs’ leading riders and trainers, was an accomplished expert on breeding and bloodlines for 25 years. The African American jockey guided Derby winner Baden-Baden to a two-length victory in 1877 and advised the breeder of five Derby winners, three Hall of Famers and Triple Crown-Winner, Sir Barton (1919).

During the evening, the Fund for the Arts, the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation and Churchill Downs will present Louisville’s third annual Award in the Arts presented by Woodford Reserve, Joy Mangano and the Unbridled Charitable Foundation, Inc. This is a separate sold out ticketed event in the Stakes Room that will celebrate recognized local artists and arts organizations, including Obie Award-winner Les Waters and novelist and producer Linda Bruckheimer, among others. The seven award recipients will be featured on the Big Board during the evening

Admission starts at $15 and Reserved Box seats start at $30. Courtyard tickets are $104 and Winner’s Circle Suite tickets are $125 and each includes admissions, full bar, small plates and a program. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. with first post at 6:00 p.m. Recommended attire is Dress to Impress cocktail attire that incorporates orange and fashionable headwear.

The Fund for the Arts partnership earned Churchill Downs an award from the Business Committee for the Arts of Americans for the Arts this year for exceptional commitment to the arts. Churchill Downs is one of 10 businesses across the country and the only one in Kentucky to earn the recognition.

About Fund for the Arts

Fund for the Arts is a regional nonprofit with the mission to maximize the arts to drive economic development, education, and quality of life in our community. The Fund conducts one of the oldest united arts campaigns in the country and supports world-class institutions, community organizations and arts in education. Fund for the Arts also hosts the nationally recognized NeXt leadership development program for young professionals and leads collective action across the arts and cultural sector. For more information, visit

About Churchill Downs Racetrack

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 5, 2018. The track’s 2018 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-June 30. An eight-time host to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Churchill Downs will again be the site of that event on Nov. 2-3, 2018.

About Churchill Downs Incorporated

Churchill Downs Incorporated is an industry-leading racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event – The Kentucky Derby. We own and operate Derby City Gaming, a historical racing machine facility in Louisville, Kentucky. We also own and operate the largest online horse racing wagering platform in the U.S.,, and we operate sports betting and iGaming through our BetAmerica platform in multiple states. We are also a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with approximately 11,000 slot machines and video lottery terminals and 200 table games in eight states. Additional information about CDI can be found online at

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