Effective Monday, May 28, Churchill
Downs Racetrack will raise overnight race purses 10 percent because of higher
than expected all-sources wagering levels during Kentucky Derby Week.
Purses for overnight races – which
include overnight stakes, allowance, maiden special weight, claiming and maiden
claiming events – will rise by an approximate blended average of $3,400 per
Total overnight purses for the meet
are projected to be $13.5 million, up from the original forecast of $13.0
million. The daily average purse distribution, not including stakes money, will
be approximately $346,000 per day. The number grows to $505,000 when stakes
money is included.
The purse boosts were made possible
by record all sources wagering on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days. The
stellar two days of racing attracted $226.9 million in wagers, an 11.9% gain
from the $202.7 million bet in 2011.
“We’re elated that our engaged
owners, trainers, jockeys and breeders will benefit from a 10-percent increase
in prize money over the final five weeks of the season, thanks in large part to
our record Kentucky Derby Week business levels,” said Kevin Flanery, president
of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “In fact, the record $187 million wagered on
Kentucky Derby Day by fans all over the world helped generate $8.3 million in
purses that will be paid to horsemen this year.
“Regrettably, our inability to
regularly card races for high-quality horses due to Kentucky’s declining horse
population is another factor for the purse increase. Those types of races
typically equate to higher purse money being offered, but they aren’t filling
as often as we’d like. Therefore, we have more money to distribute than originally
projected. Instead, horses of that caliber are continuing to leave Kentucky for
more lucrative opportunities in states that boost their purse structure from
alternative revenue streams. This positive 10-percent purse increase is not a
long-term solution to the problems we continue to face in Kentucky’s signature
horse racing industry.”
Just as it was last year, the
average field size through the first three weeks of the Spring Meet was 8.0
horses per race. That number dipped slightly to 7.9 horses per race since
Kentucky Derby Week (May 10-20).
Churchill Downs’ 39-day Spring Meet
will continue through Sunday, July 1.