Kevin Flanery

Restoration of Tornado-Battered Churchill Downs Barns Completed; Horses Moving In

Fewer than three months after a tornado roared the stable area at historic Churchill Downs, restoration and repair work on barns damaged by the storm’s winds is complete and horses are moving into those structures to prepare for competition during the track’s Oct. 30-Nov. 27 Fall Meet.

Churchill Downs had established a target date of Sept. 15 for the completion of the barn repairs, and crews from Louisville-based Hall Contracting accomplished that task.  The project included major repairs on 6 ½ barns that were deemed uninhabitable by city safety officials following the storm that hit the track on the evening of Wednesday, June 22.  Despite the major damage inflicted by the storm, no injuries to horses or humans were attributed to the tornado and the track missed only one day of racing in its aftermath.

National Weather Service officials in Louisville said the Churchill Downs tornado packed top winds of 105 miles-per-hour as it tore through the stables and significantly damaged a group of barns constructed in the 1940’s.  The tornado was rated as an FI storm on the Fujita Scale, the official classification system for tornado damage.

The storm caused approximately $1 to $1.5 million in damage  The structures impacted the most were Barns 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 40 and 5, as well as the stable area’s chapel.

“This is a very special day for Churchill Downs, our horsemen and all who felt the impact of the tornado that hit our track on an evening that five of those storms took Kentucky and Southern Indiana by surprise,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.  “We continue to consider the fact that no horses or humans were injured in the tornado to be miraculous, but the completion of repair work on our damaged barns during a very narrow window of time is also remarkable.

"A long list of partners headed by Louisville’s Hall Contracting, Luckett & Farley architects, our horsemen and our Churchill Downs team made major contributions to this effort and worked hard to make the goal of getting horses back into these barns by Sept. 15 a reality.  We thank those partners and every individual, public agency, and the many community and church groups that reached out to offer help to our track and support the individuals impacted by the tornado in the hours after the storm and during the following weeks and months that led to this special day.”

Flanery also thanked the Louisville Metro Police Department, Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Gas & Electric (LG & E), the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and representatives of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau for their contributions to the recovery effort in the hours following the surprise storm.

The completion of the restoration and repairs of the tornado-damaged barns allows stables and horses to return to the track and resume normal training in preparation for Churchill Downs’ 21-day Fall Meet.  The meet will be highlighted by the unprecedented eighth visit by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to Louisville on Nov. 4-5 and the 137th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap (Grade I) on Friday, Nov. 25.

Kentucky Oaks Purse Raised to $1 Million Guaranteed; 2011 Spring Stakes List Has 25 Events, Purses of $7.325 Million

The 137th running of the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs will be the richest in history as the purse for America’s most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies has been raised to $1 million guaranteed, which doubles the purse offered in 2010.

The record-setting Kentucky Oaks, scheduled for Friday, May 6, and the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), the nation’s greatest race and one of America’s top entertainment events, head a schedule of 25 stakes races with total purses of $7.325 million set for Churchill Downs 2011 Spring Meet.  The 39-day meet opens with the first Kentucky Derby Week night racing event on Saturday, April 30 and will conclude with an Independence Day racing program on Monday, July 4.

The record purse for the Kentucky Oaks will make the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies the richest American race in that division. The increase will help boost the value of purses for six stakes races scheduled on the Oaks Day program to a record $2 million.  That total is second at Churchill Downs only to Kentucky Derby Day, which also features six graded stakes races – three of which are Grade I events – with total purses of $3.4 million.

“There is no weekend in American racing like Kentucky Oaks and Derby Weekend, and it is exciting to raise the purse for the Oaks to a level that reflects its status and importance as a sports and entertainment event,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.  “The Oaks has enjoyed spectacular growth in recent years and the 2010 running won by Blind Luck was one of its greatest renewals.  The 2010 attracted a record crowd of 116,046 and all sources wagering set records with $10.6 million bet on the Oaks race, and $30.6 million was wagered on the entire Oaks card, a jump of 20 percent from the previous record.  The Oaks ranked eighth in the U.S. in betting on a single race in 2010, and wagering on the entire Oaks card ranked sixth.  Along with its wagering success, the Oaks clearly stands on its own as a spectacular entertainment event, and the fundraising partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and national television coverage on Bravo have opened doors to new fans of America’s greatest race for 3-year-old fillies.

“While some stakes races have gone on hiatus and others have had slight adjustments in purse levels, our overall stakes schedule is strong and attractive, and our ‘big event days’ – the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap – head a roster of stakes races that offers wonderful opportunities for horsemen in nearly every division.”

he 2011 Churchill Downs Spring Meet kicks off with a spectacular racing and entertainment program under the track’s permanent lights that features the $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial.  The Grade III Derby Trial is the final major prep for the Kentucky Derby, which will be run a week later.  The opening night celebration that kicks off the Spring Meet will be the first Derby Week racing session conducted under the lights in Churchill Downs history.

The last purse increase for the Kentucky Oaks came in 1996, when the purse was raised to $500,000-added for the race won by Pike Place Dancer.

Three straight Kentucky Oaks winners – Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008) and Rags to Riches (2007) – went on earn Eclipse Awards as champion 3-year-old filly.  Two of those – Rachel Alexandra and Rags to Riches – defeated males in Triple Crown events in their next start as Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness (GI) on her way to Horse of the Year honors, and Rags to Riches defeated eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in the Belmont Stakes (GI).  Blind Luck, the 2010 winner, is a finalist to become the fourth consecutive filly to pull off that double when the 2010 Eclipse Award winners are revealed on Monday, Jan. 17, in Miami.

Other recent stars who won the Kentucky Oaks on their way to 3-year-old championship honors include Ashado (2004), Bird Town (’03), Farda Amiga (’02), Silverbulletday (’99), Open Mind (’89), and Tiffany Lass (’86).  Fillies that failed to win the Oaks but went on to earn Eclipse Award championship honors at the conclusion of their 3-year-old seasons include Wait A While (3rd in 2006), Banshee Breeze (2nd in ’98), and Go for Wand (2nd in 1990).

Along with the doubling of the Kentucky Oaks purse, other changes from last year in the 2011 Spring Meet stakes program include:

  • Purses have been increased for the Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII), which will grow by $50,000 to $300,000-added; the Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (GIII), which increases from $150,000-added to $300,000-added; and the American Turf (GII), which jumps by $25,000 to $200,000-added;
  •  Purses will be lower for the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), which carries a purse of $500,000-added, a reduction of $100,000; and the La Troienne (GII), which drops by $100,000 to $300,000-added.  The La Troienne decrease reflects a loss of $100,000 in Breeders’ Cup Stakes Program funding;
  • The race previously known as the Northern Dancer is now named the Matt Winn, in honor of the legendary president of Churchill Downs who became known as “Mr. Derby” for his work in transforming the Kentucky Derby and its home track into international sports and entertainment icons during his 1902-1949 tenure at the track;
  • Four races – the Fleur De Lis (GII), Kentucky Juvenile (GIII), the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) and the race previously known as the Matt Winn – will go on hiatus for this year;
  • The Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank, a $100,000-added turf race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, returns after a one-year hiatus and will be run on Kentucky Oaks Day;
  •  The $100,000-added Eight Belles Presented by ACS, A Xerox Company (GIII) will move from Kentucky Derby Day to Kentucky Oaks Day, and its distance has been changed to seven furlongs from its recent 7 ½ furlongs, and
  • The five-furlong, Grade III Turf Sprint run in recent years on Kentucky Oaks Day has been moved to Kentucky Derby Day and is now named the Twin Spires Turf Sprint.

“It was difficult to place four quality stakes events on hiatus for this year, but our racing team
looked very closely at our events and stakes schedules at other tracks in our region and around the United States and that allowed us to put together the strongest possible stakes schedule for 2011,”  Flanery said.  “Of the 25 races on our 2011 stakes schedule, 16 are scheduled on those ‘big event days’ surrounding the Derby, Oaks and Stephen Foster.  These big days have proven extremely popular with fans and horsemen, as are our ‘Downs After Dark’ night racing programs.  The record $1 million purse should make the Kentucky Oaks even more attractive to fans, owners and trainers, and we are very excited about our Spring Meet kickoff under the lights and this year’s running of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial, an important prep that could have an impact on the field for the Kentucky Derby.”

The stakes schedule for Churchill Downs 21-day Fall Meet, which runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 2 and will include the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on for the second consecutive year on Nov. 4-5, will be announced later this year.

Churchill Downs, Yum! Brands Announce Five-Year Extension of Kentucky Derby Presenting Sponsorship Agreement

Churchill Downs Racetrack and Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) today announced a five-year extension of their 2006 agreement that made the world’s largest restaurant company the first named presenting sponsor of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby, the historic track’s signature race and one of the country’s  major sports and entertainment events.

Under the agreement negotiated by the two Louisville, Ky.-based companies, the race will again be run as the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands when it is renewed for the 137th consecutive year on Saturday, May 7, at Churchill Downs.  It will be the sixth consecutive Kentucky Derby in which Yum! Brands has served as the Kentucky Derby’s presenting sponsor.

Terms of the extended agreement were not released.

The first major Kentucky Derby sponsorship contract between Churchill Downs and Yum! Brands was announced on Feb. 1, 2006, and the agreement announced today will continue the partnership through 2015.  Churchill Downs, which opened with the running of the first Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875, is the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN). Yum! Brands, a Fortune 500 company that operates more than 37,000 restaurants in 110 countries, is the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s.

“Churchill Downs is very pleased to have reached this agreement with Yum! Brands, a great corporate citizen in our hometown, that extends its presenting sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby for five more years,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.  “Our partnership with Yum! Brands has been positive for both companies and good for the Kentucky Derby, an event that is a great American tradition and a springtime sports party known and loved around the world.”

“YUM Brands is pleased to renew our presenting sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby, the greatest two minutes in sports,” said Jonathan Blum, Senior Vice President, YUM Brands, Inc.  “While millions of people know and love our leading restaurant brands, they may not know YUM Brands.  The sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby allows us to build awareness of YUM, the world’s largest restaurant company.”

The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is coming off a very successful renewal on May 1, 2010, when, a crowd of 155,804 braved a daylong rain to witness a victory by WinStar Farm’s homebred Super Saver.  The Derby 136 winner provided Kentucky-based WinStar Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher with their first victories in the “Run for the Roses”, while jockey Calvin Borel won the race for the third time in four years. 

Total wagering on the 2010 Kentucky Derby was $112.7 million, an increase of 7.8 percent from the previous year.  Total wagering from all sources on the 13-race Kentucky Derby Day card at Churchill Downs was $162.7 million, an increase of 4.3 percent from the $156.0 million wagered a year earlier.

The Kentucky Derby is the only race in North America to attract wagering of more than $100 million.   The Derby’s attendance figure for 2010 marked the 10th time – and the sixth consecutive year – that America’s greatest race had attracted a crowd in excess of 150,000.

The presenting sponsorship agreement will not impact the purse of the Kentucky Derby, which stands at $2 million guaranteed.  But, like Churchill Downs’ previous agreement with Yum! Brands, owners and trainers who race their horses at Churchill Downs’ Spring and Fall Meets will benefit as a portion of the sponsorship’s revenues will go to race purses through a formula agreed upon in the most recent agreement between the track and horsemen.

Unbeaten Zenyatta, European Stars Goldikova, Workforce Head Record 184 Pre-Entries for Breeders' Cup World Championships

Continuing her quest for perfection in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic  and reign among the greatest names in sports history, the undefeated Zenyatta leads the list of a record 184 horses pre-entered, 26  from overseas, for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The 27th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consisting of 14 races and purses totaling $26 million over the two-day event, will be held at Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6. This will be a record seventh time that Churchill Downs will host the Championships.

The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on ABC/ESPN and in more than 130 foreign countries.

“The overall depth and quality of this year’s pre-entered fields are higher than at any previous occasion,” said Tom Robbins, Chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel. “The international contingent is particularly strong and is bolstered by high ratings for Zenyatta, Workforce and Goldikova.”

In perhaps the most dramatic moment in Breeders’ Cup history, Zenyatta came from last to first to win the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, becoming the first female to capture the race, and the first horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races. (In 2008, she was the winner of the Ladies’ Classic.) Brought out of a brief retirement by her owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Zenyatta returned as a 6-year-old mare this year and has won all five of her starts to increase her unbeaten streak to 19 consecutive races. Under the care of trainer John Shirreffs, Zenyatta captured the Santa Margarita at Santa Anita, the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Vanity at Hollywood Park, the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar and most recently the Lady’s Secret by a half-length at the Oak Tree meeting at Hollywood Park. Tiznow, in 2000 and 2001, is the only horse to win back-to-back Classics.

If Zenyatta is to repeat, she will have to do it against one of the strongest Classic fields ever assembled. Among the 16 horses pre-entered for the 1 ¼ mile race is  Adele Dilschneider’s and Claiborne Farm’s 4-year-old Blame, winner of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, before finishing second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup; the Bob Baffert-trained Lookin at Lucky, the nation’s top 3-year-old, who won the Preakness Stakes, the Haskell Invitational and the Indiana Derby; the 4-year-old Quality Road, who had to be scratched at the gate prior to last year’s Classic, but returned this year with sparkling victories in the Donn Handicap, the Metropolitan Handicap and the Woodward Stakes, and the versatile 5-year-old Gio Ponti, who finished second to Zenyatta in last year’s Classic and was both champion older male and champion turf horse of 2009. Trained by Christophe Clement, Gio Ponti has two grade I stakes victories on turf this year in the Man O’ War at Belmont and the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.

Others prominent in the pre-entered Classic field are Haynesfield, a front running 4-year-old who defeated Blame in the Jockey Club Gold Cup; Fly Down, second in the Travers Stakes and Paddy O’Prado, the top 3-year-old American turf horse, and also third in this year’s Kentucky Derby. The Classic is brought further intrigue by the Japanese 5-year-old Espoir City (JPN), who won last year’s Japan Cup Dirt and was twice victorious in three 2010 starts.      

Zenyatta is not the only superstar shooting for an unprecedented third consecutive Breeders’ Cup win. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer’s 5-year-old Goldikova (IRE) is seeking her third consecutive $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf, leading the charge of overseas participants in this year’s Breeders’ Cup. In 2009, European horses won six Breeders’ Cup races. Goldikova, trained by Freddy Head, has won four of five starts this year, three of them over males in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, and most recently, the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp. Challenging Goldikova will be Juddmonte Farms’ 5-year-old mare Proviso (GB), who has won her last four starts on the turf this year for trainer Bill Mott, including the Frank Kilroe Mile over males at Santa Anita Park; Woodbine Mile winner Court Vision, who was fourth in last year’s TVG Mile and Paco Boy (IRE), a formidable rival to Goldikova this year, having lost the Prix de la Foret to her by just a half-length. Gio Ponti is also pre-entered in the Mile as a second preference.

There has yet to be a winner of both the Arc de Triomphe and the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year, but trainer Sir Michael Stoute is going to try with Khalid Abdullah’s 3-year-old Workforce (GB), who also captured the Epsom Derby earlier this year. The $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, run at 1 ½ miles on the Matt Winn Turf course, will also have Behkabad (FR), who qualified for the race by winning the Prix Niel at Longchamp through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and also won the Grand Prix de Paris. Two other Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners who have been pre-entered for the Turf are Debussy (IRE), winner of the Arlington Million for trainer John Gosden and Champ Pegasus, who won the Clement Hirsch at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. Winchester, winner of both the Manhattan Handicap and the Turf Classic at Belmont Park, has also been pre-entered.

On Championship Friday, for the first time ever, the Breeders’ Cup will finish under the lights, and the focus will be on the female races, headlined by the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles.

Leading the field is the fast closing 3-year-old filly Blind Luck, who has won five races this year, including the Kentucky Oaks, the Delaware Oaks and the Alabama Stakes for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Contrasted with Blind Luck is the front running 5-year-old mare Life At Ten, who has been beaten just once this year in six starts. Trained by Todd Pletcher, who leads all trainers with 11 pre-entered horses, Life At Ten has captured two grade 1 races this year in the Ogden Phipps and the Beldame Stakes.

Juddmonte Farms’ Midday (GB) came from Great Britain to Santa Anita last year and scored a one-length victory in the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Midday is back as one of six previous Breeders’ Cup Champions pre-entered for this year’s event (along with Zenyatta, Goldikova, California Flag, Informed Decision and Forever Together), and she appears stronger than ever in facing a tough international cast. Trained by Henry Cecil, the 4-year-old filly has won three times in four starts in 2010, including consecutive Group 1 victories in the Nassau Stakes, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille.  She will face the likes of the French 4-year-old filly Plumania (GB) who defeated male rivals in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and was second to Midday in the Prix Vermeille. The 3-year-old Harmonious, trained by Shirreffs, could also be dangerous in this race with grade 1 wins to her credit in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park, and recently, the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland. Japan will be represented by the 4-year-old Red Desire (JPN), third in last year’s Japan Cup and third earlier this month in the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park after a five-month layoff.

The competition in the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles shapes up as a battle among a pair of two-year-old stars on each coast. In the East, Boys at Tosconova was the summer’s early star after capturing the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, but the latest Eastern star is Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo, a dominant 4 3/4-length winner of the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.   In California, Gem Stable’s J P’s Gusto dominated the Western division with wins in the Best Pal and Del Mar Futurity before being upset by Zayat Stables’ Jaycito by one length in the Norfolk Stakes at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies two times. This year he sends out Zayat Stables’ A Z Warrior, winner of the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park. The Todd Pletcher-trained R Heat Lightning was the favorite in that race following a victory in the Spinaway. From Florida comes the undefeated Awesome Feather, a winner of five career starts and most recently an
8 1/4-length victory in the My Dear Girl Stakes at Calder.

The $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at 6 furlongs appears wide open with Smiling Tiger, winner of two grade 1 races in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the Ancient Title at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park the top runner from the West. The 5-year-old Kinsale King journeyed from California this spring to win the Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai.

The $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at 7 furlongs drew 22 pre-entered horses. The Jonathan Sheppard-trained Informed Decision is back to defend her title following a hard charge to finish third in the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland behind the 5-year-old mare Dubai Majesty. Others who could figure prominently in the wide open race are the 3-year-old Test Stakes winner Champagne d’Oro and Ballerina Stakes winner Rightly So.

The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile also appears to be wide open. The 5-year-old Tizway arrives off a five-length victory in the one mile Kelso at Belmont Park. Here Comes Ben, a 4-year-old Street Cry (IRE) colt, has won his last four races, capping the streak with the grade I Forego at Saratoga. D. Wayne Lukas, the leading all-time Breeders’ Cup trainer with 18 victories, has also pre-entered 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

California Flag seeks to win a second $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 5 furlongs, the shortest of the 14 races, for trainer Brian Koriner. The 6-year-old gelding faces Woodford winner Silver Timber and the 3-year-old filly Rose Catherine, a winner of five races this year.

A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races. Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts.  The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Oct. 25, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields.  The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) will ranked all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races.  After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference. Entry for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be Tuesday, Nov. 2 by 10:00 a.m. (ET).  At the time of entry a maximum of 14 horses will be accepted for entry in each race based on the order of preference in the rankings established at pre-entry. 

The complete list of pre-entries for the races of the 2010 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs is available on the official Breeders' Cup Web site.

There will be up to two (2) also-eligible horses for each Championship race. The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Scratch time for all Championships races to be contested on both Championship Friday and Championship Saturday will be 7:00 a.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 5. 

Breeders' Cup Selects Churchill Downs To Host 2011 World Championships

For the first time in its history the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held at Churchill Downs, Inc (“CDI”) in consecutive years as officials from Breeders’ Cup Ltd, Churchill Downs and Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made the announcement at a news conference this morning at the racetrack.

The 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious two-day event, annually attracts the best horses from North America and Europe. It is the richest prize money event in sports, with more than $26 million in purses offered over the two-day event, which will be held on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5. 2011. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised on ABC/ESPN and to more than 130 countries around the world.

The 28th Breeders’ Cup will mark a record eighth time that the Championships will be held at Churchill Downs - the legendary home of the Kentucky Derby. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be conducted on Nov. 5, 6.  Previous editions of the Breeders’ Cup were held at Churchill Downs in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000 and in 2006.   The previous six runnings have had an average attendance of 73,556, with an all-time single day Breeders’ Cup crowd of 80,452 at the 1998 event. The 2006 event, which was attended by 76,132 fans, also produced all-time Breeders’ Cup records for single day on-track handle, $18,259,971, and the total worldwide single day wagering mark of $140,332,198. 

“I am thrilled that Kentucky’s iconic Churchill Downs, home of the legendary Kentucky Derby, has been selected to host the 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The 28th Breeders Cup will mark a record eight times that Churchill has hosted the Breeders’ Cup and will be the first time it has hosted this prestigious race for two consecutive years. Jane and I congratulate Churchill Downs on this accomplishment and we look forward to joining the thousands of spectators who will attend these events.”

Governor Beshear was joined by Breeders’ Cup Chairman William S. Farish Jr. and Breeders’ Cup President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Avioli, Churchill Downs Incorporated President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Evans, Bill Carstanjen, Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Downs, Inc., and Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.

“The prospect of consecutive years at Churchill Downs combined with Kentucky’s strong business climate and legislative incentives are sure to make the event a tremendous success for the Breeders’ Cup, greater Louisville and the state,” said Breeders’ Cup Chairman William S. Farish, Jr.  “Churchill Downs continues to be one of the world’s greatest racing facilities, and is extremely popular with our horsemen and fans. We are enjoying an excellent relationship with Bob Evans and the Churchill management team. On behalf of our Board and Trustees and the racing and breeding industry which benefit the Breeders’ Cup, we appreciate Churchill’s continued enthusiasm and support in extending our relationship for the 2011 World Championships.”

“The return of the Breeders’ Cup for a second consecutive year in 2011 is good news for Kentucky and Churchill Downs as it underscores the importance of the event and our track to life and the economic vitality in our state and region,” said Evans.  “Nearly a half-million fans from around the world have witnessed some of racing’s most dramatic moments during the record six previous visits by the Breeders’ Cup to our historic track.  From its first stop in 1988, the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs has been one of our industry’s greatest celebrations and its return in 2011 provides another wonderful economic development opportunity for our city, state and region.  We are pleased to welcome the two-day Breeders’ Cup championship in 2011 to complete its first back-to-back visits to Churchill Downs and our city.”

Over the past four years, the, Breeders’ Cup World Championships has experienced unprecedented growth, with total races expanding from eight to 14, and total purses increasing from $14 million to $26 million. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be the first at Churchill under the two-day format. It will also be the first Breeders’ Cup in which both days of the Championships will finish under the lights. 

Dates Announced For 2010 Kentucky Derby, Oaks Future Wagers

Churchill Downs will offer fans of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) a trio of opportunities in February and March to make a lucrative early bet on the winner of this year’s “Run for the Roses” and one chance to take a stand on the 3-year-old filly that will succeed Rachel Alexandra as the winner of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).

The historic Louisville track has announced dates for three wagering pools for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), which is entering its 12th year, and a single pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”), now in its eighth year.  In a significant change, all Kentucky Derby and Oaks future pools will consist of three days of wagering.  Previous pools for both wagers had been four-day events.

Dates for the three Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools (pending final approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission) are:

  • Pool 1 – Feb. 12-14
  • Pool 2 – March 5-7
  • Pool 3 – March 26-28

The single pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future wager will coincide with the March 5-7 KDFW Pool 2.  Betting will open each day of the Derby and Oaks pools at noon (all times Eastern).  The Kentucky Derby pools will close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, while betting on the lone Kentucky Oaks pool will conclude at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes after Pool 2 Derby Future betting is wrapped up.

Exacta wagering, a popular addition to the Kentucky Derby Future Wager betting menu in 2009, will be offered during all three KDFW pools in 2010.  The exacta option was offered on the latter two Derby Future pools in 2009 along with its traditional win option.  The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager will not offer exactas in 2010.

“Last year’s results proved just how unpredictable and exciting the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Wagers can be as Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot winner on Derby Day, returned a winning payout as an ‘all others’ wager in all three Derby pools, and the dominant Rachel Alexandra was actually a bettor’s bargain as the second betting choice in the only Oaks pool,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack.   “Exacta wagering was a welcomed addition to the Derby Future pools last year, and we think the shorter three-day future pools we’ve scheduled for 2010 for both wagers will sharpen the focus of our players, generate new excitement and add to the fun of betting experiences that are now a part of the traditions of both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.”

The KDFW and KOFW pools consist of 24 wagering interests that include 23 individual horses and a mutuel field, or “all others” interest.  In the Kentucky Derby wager, the mutuel field includes all other 3-year-olds.  The mutuel field in the Kentucky Oaks bet includes all other 3-year-old fillies.

All bets in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Future Wagers are $2 minimum wagers.  There are no refunds on any wagers made during the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks future pools.  If it is determined during those pools that one of the individual horses has suffered an illness, injury or other circumstance that will prevent that horse from competing in either race, wagering on that betting interest will be suspended at that point.

The 136th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is scheduled for Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs.   The Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, will be renewed for the 136th time on Friday, April 30.  Both races have been held without interruption since the first racing meet at Churchill Downs was conducted in 1875.  

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Statistics- Download the PDF

Kentucky Derby, Oaks Infield Club Returns With Several Enhancements

Churchill Downs’ exclusive Infield Club, which offered a new guest experience for fans of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks in 2009, will return for this year’s renewals with several venue enhancements, including the creation of a new VIP Lounge plus additional seating, more and larger tented areas, additional jumbo televisions and bar locations.

“We’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to enhance the Derby and Oaks experience,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said. “The Infield Club and its comfortable, sports-bar atmosphere was a popular new addition in 2009 as the area sold out, proving there is exceptional demand for unique Derby and Oaks hospitality areas. After listening to customer feedback, we’ve made a number of Infield Club enhancements and tailored our venue design to best create added comfort and take the overall experience to new levels.”

Much like its 2009 debut, the Infield Club will be a temporary outdoor hospitality area totaling 93,000 square feet, located in the center of the world-famous Churchill Downs infield. The private space, secured by decorative eight-foot lattice, will allow fans of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks the opportunity to enjoy the exuberant party atmosphere of the infield in an exclusive setting.

The internal design of this year’s all-new Infield Club has been reconfigured and enhanced by Churchill Downs and M Scenic Group Studios. In addition to its variety of staffed betting windows, self-serve betting machines, food concession booths and executive restroom facilities, the Infield Club’s 2010 added amenities will include:

§    A new Infield Club VIP Lounge. The VIP Lounge will be a reserved-seating area that features cocktail service, half-priced menu items, four elevated jumbo television screens, plasma monitors located at every table station, eight private betting windows and executive restrooms;
§    One seat for every ticket sold. The number of tickets sold will match the number of seats available compared to last year when seating was only available to approximately 20 percent of the customers who purchased access to the Infield Club. First-come, first-served seating options will include large and cabaret tables with chairs, high-top tables with barstools, stadium-style seating, bleachers and picnic tables;
§    32,000-square feet of tented areas. The additional tented structures within the Infield Club will be a 50 percent increase in covered area from 2009;
§    12 jumbo television screens with enhanced resolution and surround-sound audio. Customers will be able to watch the day’s racing action from a dozen elevated jumbo televisions with enhanced resolution, view points and surround-sound audio of track commentary, race calls and music. In 2009, there were only two jumbo televisions; and
§    Five bar locations. Patrons won’t have to travel far for mint juleps and other beverages with five full-service convenient bar locations through the complex.

    Tickets to the Infield Club are currently on sale at Churchill Downs’ new online box office http://tickets.churchilldowns.com. The tickets have been bundled to include all-day admission for both the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1, and the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30. Two-day general admission is $250 per person, while the Infield Club VIP Lounge package, which includes admission, a reserved seat, programs on both days and a special commemorative gift, costs $375 per person.

    Availability is limited and ticket packages will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. Tickets must be purchased with a Visa credit or debit card. Minimal ticket processing charges will apply with an online purchase.

    Customers should be aware that the Infield Club does not offer a direct view of the racetrack. Food and beverage are not included in Infield Club ticket package prices. Lawn chairs and coolers are not permitted in the Infield Club.

    Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will host the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1 and the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30. The track will conduct its 2010 Spring Meet from Saturday, April 24 through Sunday, July 4. Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. Churchill Downs tickets are available at tickets.churchilldowns.com or by calling (502) 636-4400. Additional information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

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Owner/Breeder LaPenta Sponsors The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial; Final Derby Prep's Purse Now $200,000

Prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder Robert LaPenta will honor one his most accomplished horses and boost the significance of the final major prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) after reaching an agreement with the historic track to sponsor this year’s 86th running of the $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII).

The 2010 renewal of the race, which was restored to Grade III status in 2009 by the American Graded Stakes Committee, will carry a purse of $200,000-added – which doubles the purse offered a year ago – and will return to its previous distance of one mile.  It was run at 7 ½ furlongs from 2007-09.  The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial, named in honor of LaPenta’s Grade I winner The Cliff’s Edge, is scheduled for Saturday, April 24 – opening day of the 42-day Spring Meet and one week before the Kentucky Derby – and is the final graded prep race before the famed “Run for the Roses” on Saturday, May 1.

The major increase in the purse for The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trail will undoubtedly make the race more attractive to some owners and trainers who hope to land a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters with preference to horses who have compiled the highest total earnings in graded stakes races.

The Cliff’s Edge, who continues a breeding career as a member of the stallion roster at Margaux Farm in Midway, Ky., compiled a record of 4-5-2 in 13 career starts with earnings of $1,265,258.  Trained for LaPenta by two-time Kentucky Derby-winner Nick Zito, he won the 2004 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) at Keeneland and swept Churchill Downs’ 2003 Fall Meet stakes races for the 2-year-olds, the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and Iroquois (GIII).  The Cliff’s Edge was the morning line favorite for the 2004 Kentucky Derby, but finished fifth to Smarty Jones following an eventful run over a “sloppy” track during which he lost both front shoes and suffered a bruised foot.

“Our sponsorship of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial is very exciting in that it allows our racing operation to contribute to the success and allure of a race that has a wonderful tradition as a Kentucky Derby prep as we honor one of our more successful horses, The Cliff’s Edge, and provide a boost to his ongoing career as a stallion,” LaPenta said.  “Despite an unlucky run in the 2004 Kentucky Derby, The Cliff’s Edge enjoyed the finest moments of his racing career at Churchill Downs and in the state of Kentucky.  We look forward to seeing his name and legacy being an important part of the week leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby and the possibility that a major contender for this year’s Derby could emerge with a big effort in this final important prep.”

"We thank Robert LaPenta for his enthusiastic support of Churchill Downs racing and the Kentucky Derby,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.  “His sponsorship of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial will significantly enhance the attractiveness and prestige of this historic final prep for America’s Greatest Race.  Graded earnings are an increasingly important factor as the field for the Kentucky Derby takes shape in the days before the race and we expect that Mr. LaPenta’s efforts, along with the boost in purse and adjustment in distance, will serve to make the 2010 renewal of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial one of its most notable in years.”

The one-mile The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial has served as the final prep for an impressive group of 13 Kentucky Derby winners through the decades.  The race was first run in 1924 and that inaugural running was won by Black Gold, who returned to win the Derby.  Others who swept both races include Triple Crown winner Citation (1948), Hill Gail (1952), Dark Star (1953) and Tim Tam (1958).

Horses that failed to win the Derby Trial but won the Kentucky Derby include Triple Crown winners Whirlaway (1941) and Assault (1946), Lawrin (1938), Gallahadion (1940), Ponder (1949), Middleground (1950), Determine (1954) and Iron Liege (1957).  Assault and Iron Liege finished off-the-board in their respective runnings of the Trial, while the others were runners-up in their renewals.

The most recent Derby Trial winner to play a significant role in the Kentucky Derby was B. Wayne Hughes’ Don’t Get Mad, who finished fourth to Giacomo in the 2005 Derby.

Other notables to win The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial through the years include Ack Ack, Caveat, Key to the Mint, Hill Rise, Crozier, Federal Hill, Housebuster, Cherokee Run and Richter Scale.  Recent Trial winners include the then unbeaten Hull, who defeated Jim Dandy (GII) and Dwyer (GII) winner Kensei to take the 2009 renewal, and 2008 winner Macho Again, who later finished second in the Preakness (GI) and won the 2009 running of Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).   

Churchill Downs' Online Offering of Select Kentucky Derby, Oaks Tickets Sells Out

Churchill Downs’ exclusive online offering of 3,000 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks reserved seat packages sold out Wednesday in 48 minutes.

    The limited number of two-day ticket packages, which ranged in price from $172 for individual first floor grandstand bleacher seats to $6,390 for a six-seat box in the third floor clubhouse with daily access to the exclusive Secretariat Lounge, were made available exclusively at Churchill Downs’ new online box office, http://tickets.churchilldowns.com.

    Tickets went on sale at 12 p.m. EST and were sold out by 12:48 p.m.

“The demand for both Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks tickets is truly exceptional,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said. “The rapid sell-out of this limited offer reaffirms that these two premier racing events comprise America’s hottest, most extravagant and glamorous springtime sports party. Our online approach gave everyone a fair shot to purchase highly coveted reserved seats, and we’re truly appreciative by the level of support shown by sports fans and entertainment seekers around the world.”

The online sale of Derby and Oaks inventory was originally scheduled for Dec. 16, but was temporary delayed due to track officials’ concerns about a potential data error that could have resulted in customer service issues for some patrons. Early internal monitoring of Wednesday’s process showed no significant system troubles.

“There was extraordinary demand with more than 50,000 online requests within the first five minutes,” Flanery said. “We’re thrilled for those who were fortunate to purchase reserved seats and sympathize with those who didn’t have the luck of the draw this time around.”

    Churchill Downs’ new online box office, http://tickets.churchilldowns.com, is an easy-to-navigate, one-stop shop Website that allows patrons to seamlessly view, choose and purchase exact reserved seat locations throughout the vast facility.

    Customers can advance purchase general admission tickets to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands for $40 and the Kentucky Oaks for $25, as well as reserved seats to other 2010 on-track events, including six special “Downs After Dark” nighttime racing programs.

    Customers are advised to visit http://tickets.churchilldowns.com frequently as inventory is continually added.

    Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will host the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1 and the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30. The track will conduct its 2010 Spring Meet from Saturday, April 24 through Sunday, July 4. Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. Churchill Downs tickets are available at http://tickets.churchilldowns.com or by calling (502) 636-4400. Additional information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

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Reminder: Rescheduled Online Sale of Kentucky Derby, Oaks Tickets is Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 12 p.m. EST

A limited number of two-day ticket packages to this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will go on sale at http://tickets.churchilldowns.com on Wednesday (Jan. 6) at noon EST.

The online sale of Derby and Oaks inventory was originally scheduled for Dec. 16, but was delayed by a potential data error. “After exhaustive testing, we’re ready to go, and we fully anticipate our limited inventory to move fast,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.

A total of 3,000 seats have been allocated for this online exclusive and include:

¨    Third-floor clubhouse box seats in sections 312-314 and access to the Secretariat Lounge, an exclusive, upscale, indoor hospitality area that will feature premium gourmet food, an open bar, televisions, betting kiosks and live music between races (50 boxes or 300 seats which range from $6,132-$6,390 per six-seat box);
¨    First-floor clubhouse box seats in section 111 (166 boxes or 996 seats which cost $1,500 per six-seat box);
¨    Second-floor grandstand bleacher seats in sections 222-225 (300 seats which range from $214-$225 per seat); and
¨    First-floor grandstand bleacher seats in sections 121-128 (1,404 seats which range from $172-$207 per seat).

Ticket prices vary based on location. There is a purchase limit of six seats or one box per order. Those who want to purchase box seats must purchase the entire box, which includes seats for six. Tickets must be purchased with a Visa credit or debit card. Minimal ticket processing charges will apply.

    This offer is exclusive to http://tickets.churchilldowns.com; no sales will be made in person or by submitting letters, e-mail or telephone calls to Churchill Downs.

    Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will host the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1 and the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30. The track will conduct its 2010 Spring Meet from Saturday, April 24 through Sunday, July 5. Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. Churchill Downs tickets are available at tickets.churchilldowns.com or by calling (502) 636-4400. Additional information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

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