This past spring Jonathan Huntington of Northlands Park took in the renowned Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The derby experience is one of mint juleps and the garland of roses, Twin Spires and 136 years of history. The infield parties alone hold 80,000 people on race day. The derby is famous for much more than the race; it’s also about the food, the fashion and the people.
One of the items on Huntington’s agenda was to investigate the history, culture and celebrations that make up the derby and bring ideas and inspiration home to be merged with Northlands’ own vision.
“This year we’re targeting three areas,” said Huntington, Northlands’ racing and slots marketing/communication manager. “Hardcore fans, young families and women.”
Thus, two of Northlands’ huge events this summer are Canadian Derby Day and Horses, Hats and Hope.
The $300,000 Canadian Derby takes place at Northlands on Aug. 21 and is a full family event that includes a Derby Princess contest for girls ages two to 10.
The July 1 weiner dog races are another fun event, and you can register your dog at http://www.thehorses.com. The top three dogs earn cash prizes, and what an event for kids, dog-lovers and photographers.
Horses, Hats and Hope is a breast cancer fundraiser on Aug. 13. The gala includes dinner, a silent auction, a fashion show and prizes.
The silent auction is a much-anticipated event, as there will be hats from various designers on the tables. Think fantastic derby hats, royalty and southern tradition.
The fashion show features Miss Canadian Derby contestants displaying all manner of derby wear, including dresses, shoes and the famous hats. This is an event dedicated to women and a valuable fundraiser as well.
The 2010 season at Northlands includes 85 race days and purses totalling $10 million for the year. There are eight new riders and Sugar Doyle is now the track announcer.
Closing day is Oct. 11, and there are opportunities to watch racing every week, as well as major race days now through September.
If you go to the Horses website, you will find all the information you need, including track and racing lists, Racing 101 for the novice, industry news, blogs and the season’s schedule and results.
Spending a day at Northlands can be an event of your making, with food, the Slots, live and simulcast racing, and let’s not forget people-watching (especially on derby day).