Before the first race is run Saturday on opening night of the 38-day spring meet, Churchill Downs Racetrack has announced that purses will be raised an additional $3.1 million thanks to robust business from historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming.
Total purses offered in the first condition book for horsemen, which covers 190 races over 19 dates through Thursday, May 27, have grown to $22,822,100 for a daily average of $1,201,163. That is a 5.9 percent increase from the previously published $21,544,000.
Maiden special weight races are now worth $115,000 during Kentucky Derby Week and $100,000 post-Derby, which is up from the previously published $106,000 and $91,000, respectively. Kentucky Derby Week allowance races will range from $118,000 to $125,000 and $102,000 to $109,000 after Derby. They were $109,000 to $116,000 and $93,000 to $100,000, respectively.
Additionally, the purses for 25 stakes races were boosted. A trio of stakes received $50,000 increases: the $150,000 Audubon for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf on May 29; $300,000 Fleur de Lis (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on June 26; and $300,000 Wise Dan (G2) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf on June 26. Fourteen stakes originally worth $125,000 were boosted by $25,000 to $150,000 and eight overnight stakes races received $10,000 increases.
The 40-race spring meet stakes schedule now totals $14.02 million.
The growth has been driven by handle on historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, a few miles away from the Louisville track.
“Over the last 10 years, historical horse racing has allowed our equine industry to flourish, increasing purses and creating a more competitive racing circuit,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack president Mike Anderson. “It has led to new jobs, economic growth and tourism.
“Despite the challenges of the last year, we have a bright future ahead – one of growth, innovation, new jobs and development. Recently we opened our $8 million Equine Medical Center and Quarantine Facility. This summer, we’re investing $10 million to install a new turf course to improve the overall racing product. In northern Kentucky, our sister track Turfway Park saw handle grow 32.9 percent after we installed a new Tapeta surface, and recently we broke ground on a $145 million state-of-the-art Thoroughbred and historical horse racing venue. All of this will strengthen and bring innovation to our equine industry and ensure Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world.”