Opening Night Goes Orange to Kick Off LouisvilleKY’s Derby Week and Spring Racing

Photo from Churchill Down's Facebook page

LOUISVILLE, KY – Churchill Downs and Fund for the Arts will kick off Derby week for the fourth year by adding live performances by local artists to the evening of live racing at Opening Night presented by Budweiser. For the second year, the event’s theme will be orange, the color of creativity and encouragement, to celebrate Louisville’s exciting arts community. Guests are encouraged to incorporate orange into their outfit. Opening Night is Saturday, April 27. Tickets are available at

The evening will include more than live 20 performances by more than 150 local actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists throughout the track and on Churchill Downs’ Big Board. Each artists was chosen for how they incorporate orange into their performance.

Churchill Downs

Featured Plaza Stage entertainment includes:

  • Karan Chavis: 7:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Zach Longoria Project: 9:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
  • Short performances by YOYA Dance Troupe, Kentucky Shakespeare and Dancers Center for Training between 5:50 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.

Artists performing throughout the Racetrack include:

  • Amberly Simpson & Dancers – modern dance performances
  • Demi Bechtloff – umbrella installation art
  • BioGlitz – performance art with glitter bar & glitter models
  • Louisville Listens & Danny Seim – music and piano installation and performances
  • CirqueLouis – contemporary circus performances
  • The Art of Kacy (Kacey Jackson) – live mural painting
  • ·Resko Art (Braylyn Stewart) – live mural painting
  • ·Chris Chappell – live mural painting
  • ·Francisco Cardona – “Planet Orange” LED art installation
  • ·The Louisville Leopards – student percussion ensemble performance
  • ·Wheeler Elementary School – installation art by 120 Wheeler Elementary 5th graders
  • ·Dancer’s Center for Training – dance performances
  • ·YOYA Dance Troupe – Chinese folk dance performances
  • ·KMAC – wearable art performances
  • ·Sarabande Books – roaming personalized poetry
  • ·Fazier History Museum – actress performing in a custom-made 1904 Derby dress
  • ·Wonnd & Twine – barrel art installation
  • Kentucky Shakespeare – roaming performance art
  • Lynn Dunbar Bayus – live painting
  • Grant Goodwine – live painting

During Opening Night, Fund for the Arts and Churchill Downs will present the 2019 Awards in the Arts presented by Kindred Healthcare and Joy Mangano, a separately ticketed charitable event in the Starting Gate Suites that celebrates the arts community in the Greater Louisville region and the arts contribution to our unique cultural landscape and quality of place. Most of all, Awards in the Arts celebrates the artists themselves and their talent and passion for transformative and inspiring works of art. The seven Awards in the Arts award winners, which include the National Award in the Arts, National Arts Advocate, Lifetime Achievement, Arts Innovation, Arts Education, Arts Impact and Emerging Leadership, will be broadcast live on the Big Board.

For the fourth year, Opening Night’s featured racing event is the annual running of the $100,000 William Walker Stakes. William “Billy” Walker Sr. was one of Churchill Downs’ leading riders and trainers and 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).

Admission starts at $17 and Reserved Box seats start at $34. Courtyard tickets are $104 and Winner’s Circle Suite tickets are $130 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.

About Churchill Downs Racetrack

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented the Kentucky Derby 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 145th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4, 2019. The track’s 2019 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 27-June 29. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships nine times.

About Fund For the Arts

Fund for the Art 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 and supports world-class institutions, community organizations and arts-in-education. The Fund for the Arts also hosts, an online crowd-funding platform for any 501(c)3 organization in Kentucky and Southern Indiana to post arts and culture projects and the nationally recognized NeXt! leadership development program for young professionals. For more information, visit