Churchill Downs has been in the businness of Horse Racing for 137 years. Famous for their “Twin Spires,” they regularly bring crowds of 150,000+ to partake in the racing culture. It’s hard to believe that this monumental track has never shared its grounds with a parachute team. Fortunately, Black Team was proud to change that and add a new venue to their history!
Saturday, May 5th, Black Team worked in conjunction with “The Art of the Game” and Marlee Scott, a Canadian record artist, to perform the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup. With nearly 80,000 people in the stands, SFC Brian Sealing took the microphone.
From 5,000 feet, Black Team stepped out of the C-31 Troopship aircraft, piloted by CW5 Jeff Sopp and Mr. Frank Reiner. For the first time in history, a parachute team began its descent over the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. Broadcasting live to over 120 countries, ESPN and ABC created great publicity for the Golden Knights and our United States Army. With every jumper landing on point and safely, Black Team was proud to make a historical entrance.
Watch the first jumpers’ GoPro footage here.
Proving what the Golden Knights stand for, we coordinated our final jumper, SPC Navarro to land in conjuction with Marlee Scott’s National Anthem. He reminded the thousands in the stands, that we will never forget those who are held prisoners of war or missing in action. With 2 minutes left in our jump window, he deployed the POW/MIA flag. This was our visual signal to SFC Brian Sealing to pass the microphone. He closed his portion of the show and allowed Marlee Scott to be introduced and begin her performance of the National Anthem. As the Louisville PD’s Mounted Color Guard displayed our National Colors, Black Team completed their performance. SPC Navarro proudly landed on the last note of Scott’s Anthem, with his flag caught. Let the races begin.
To thank Black Team for the contribution, the Breeders’ Cup was proud to bring the Team into the Day to Day Winners Circle for presentations. We were given the honor of presenting the trophy for the Juvenile Turf race. We were also proud to present our baton, which was flown in free fall, to one of the Breeders’ Cup executives, Mr. Tom Ludt.
Black Team looks forward to a continued relationship with Churchill Downs. Within minutes of our performance conclusion, we were already given an unofficial invite to the next Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs’ most famous event, hosting about double the audience.