Monday, May 11, 2009

Churchill Seeks to Cut Seven Race Days

Due to a reduced number of entries and a decline in purse money earned from all wagering sources during its ongoing 2009 Spring Meet, Churchill Downs Racetrack will request permission from the Kentucky Horse Racing Board to eliminate seven race days from its 2009 Spring Meet, which had been scheduled for 52 racing days between April 25 and July 5. The request, which will be made at the KHRC’s regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, May 12, comes on the heels of four consecutive race days in which at least one race was canceled due to small field sizes.

“With this announcement, we are now clearly seeing the impact of competing with Thoroughbred racetracks that supplement their purses with revenue from additional gaming options, such as slots and video lottery terminals,” said Bill Carstanjen, chief operating officer of Churchill Downs Inc. “Our analysis shows that tracks with these enhanced purses are attracting more horses to their races. Meanwhile, Kentucky, the cradle of our industry, is seeing a decline in field size. Until we address this inequity, Kentucky’s horse industry will continue to suffer.”

Churchill will request that six Wednesdays (May 20; June 3, 10, 17, and 24; and July 1) and one Thursday (May 28) be eliminated from its 2009 Spring Meet schedule.

“We are disappointed that we have to make this request after a successful Kentucky Derby week,” said Carstanjen. “The crowds we enjoyed for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, as well as Mother’s Day, illustrate clearly the passion and appreciation that Louisville has for us, and leave no doubt that Louisville is a major-league city that supports this track. Unfortunately, we have not been able to draw enough horses to fill our race cards and remain competitive in the national wagering market, which accounts for almost 90 percent of our handle. As a result, our wagering handle, which funds purses, has been down 20 percent outside of Oaks and Derby Days.”.