Kentucky Oaks

Memorable Kentucky Derby, Oaks; Continued Success of 'Downs After Dark' Night Racing; Rachel,Blame Among Spring Meet Highlights

Memorable renewals of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), won by WinStar Farm’s homebred Super Saver, and the Kentucky Oaks (GIII), won by a nose by Blind Luck: brilliant performances by reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and rising star Blame; and four exciting evenings of “Downs After Dark” night racing were among the most magical moments of the 42-day Spring Meet at Churchill downs that concluded on Sunday, July 4.

The central human figure in many of the meet’s brightest moments moments was jockey Calvin Borel, who not only achieved his 1,000th career victory beneath the Twin Spires during the meet, but also won his first Spring Meet riding title.  He piloted Super Saver to victory in the Run for the Roses, an unprecedented third Kentucky Derby victory in four years, and was aboard for Rachel Alexandra’s return to form as the 2009 Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner took the Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) by 10 ½ lengths for her first victory of the year.

“Our renewals of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, run under vastly different weather conditions, were among the most successful in history and American racing’s greatest weekend continues to display the best of the sports and entertainment aspects our industry offers,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. “Our ‘Downs After Dark’ night racing is now clearly established as an entertainment option that is attractive to a wide range of age groups and all segments of the population in our city and region.  We were disappointed that overall field sizes during the meet were not as large as our fans would prefer, but that is an industry-wide concern and we thank our horsemen who worked hard to participate in our Spring Meet.  We look ahead to our Fall Meet and the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to our track for the next two years.”

Borel guided Super Saver to a 2 ½-length victory over Ice Box over a sloppy track in the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) before a crowd of 155,804, sixth-largest in Derby history and easily the largest attendance for a renewal of the Derby run over a wet track. The huge crowd that endured nearly day-long rains was rewarded when the clouds parted as the field stepped onto the track for the Kentucky Derby post parade and the sun was shining for both for the traditional singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” and the famed race itself.

Super Saver provided trainer Todd Pletcher with his first victory in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher, who sent four runners in this year’s Run for the Roses, started his first Kentucky Derby runner in 1990 and prior to this year had saddled 24 starters without getting a sniff of the roses.

On the sun-splashed day before the Derby, Blind Luck rallied to defeat Evening Jewel by a nose in the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) before a record crowd of 116,046. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Blind Luck gave trainer Jerry Hollendorfer his third victory in America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies.    Wagering on the 2010 renewal of the Kentucky Derby race totaled $112.7 million, a 7.8 percent gain on all-sources betting from the 104.6 million wagered on the 2009 Derby.   Total betting on the 13-race Kentucky Derby Day card rose to $162.7 million, a 4.3 percent increase from the $158.0 million wagered on all Kentucky Derby Day races in 2009.

The 2010 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks was the most successful in history.  A record crowd of 116,046 watched the race and all-sources wagering on the Kentucky Oaks race was $10.6 million, an increase of 55 percent over 2009.  Total wagering on entire 12-race Kentucky Oaks Day racing program reached a record $36.0 million, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year.

The success of Kentucky Derby and Oaks Days allowed Churchill Downs to raise purses for its overnight races for the final three weeks of the Spring Meet by 10 percent.  It was the first in-meet increase in purses at Churchill Downs since a similar 10 percent purse hike in June, 2003.  This increase raised purses by about $3,000 per race.

But continued competitive pressure from tracks in racing states that supplement purses with casino and slot machine revenues or other purse subsidies contributed to a decline in average field size for the meet’s races.  The average field in the 439 races run during the 42-day Spring Meet consisted of 7.75 horses, down from 7.85 in 2009.

“Downs After Dark” night racing continued to be an immensely popular product as this year’s four sessions were conducted under Churchill Downs’ new permanent lights, which were installed over the winter at a cost of approximately $4 million.  The 2009 experiment with night race included three sessions under temporary lights.

An average of 27,139 patrons attended the evening programs, ranging from 24,625 to June 18 to 32,481 on July 2. Two more night programs are scheduled for the Fall Meet: Sunday, Oct. 31 and Friday, Nov. 19.   There was added luster to the June 11 launch of “Downs After Dark” racing under permanent lights retired U.S. Army General Tommy Franks, the one-time Commander of the United States Central Command, visited the track and turned on those lights to usher in the new era at Churchill Downs.

The 2010 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks marked it second year as part of a fundraising partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.  Because of that partnership Komen for the Cure later received a check for $118,346 to help fund the search for a cure for breast cancer.  Another Kentucky Oaks fundraising partnership resulted in a check for $30,000 to benefit Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear’s Horses and Hope breast cancer outreach initiative in Kentucky’s horse industry.

Stonestreet Farm and Harold McCormick’s Rachel Alexandra, the Churchill Downs-based Horse of the Year during her 3-year-old season that included a record-smashing 20 ¼-length victory in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks, made two appearances during the Spring Meet.  The first was a narrow loss to Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne (GII) on the 2010 Kentucky Oaks undercard, but the champion followed that effort on June 12 with her dominant victory in the Fleur de Lis.

Four races after Rachel Alexandra’s return to the winner’s circle, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame established himself as a major player in the handicap ranks and a contender for this fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs by erasing a four-length deficit in midstretch to defeat Battle Plan by three-quarters of a length in the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).

Other Grade I winners during the meet were owner-trainer Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, who captured the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic under Bejarano, and Mona de Momma, who defeated eight rivals including Eclipse Award winner Informed Decision, in the Humana Distaff.

Borel, who won the 1999 Fall Meet riding title outright and shared titles in the 2006 and 2009 Fall Meets, rode 52 winners during the Spring Meet to easily outdistance Corey Lanerie for his first Spring Meet title. One of those winners was Gray Hart’s Girl on June 4 to give the 43-year-old Borel his 1,000th Churchill Downs victory. Only Hall of Famer Pat Day (2,482) has ridden more winners at Churchill Downs.

Borel was reunited during the Spring Meet with his 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who returned to the races on July 4 in the Firecracker Handicap Presented by Thorntons (GII). Owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird became the first Kentucky Derby winner to race at Churchill Downs since 2005 winner Giacomo returned to run fourth in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).  Mine That Bird finished a disappointing eighth in his 2010 debut, but new trainer D. Wayne Lukas continues to hope that the 2009 Derby winner will progress in the coming months and return to Churchill Downs in the fall for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Steve Asmussen won his third consecutive training title, saddling 24 winners. It was the fourth Spring Meet title for the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer, who also has won leading trainer honors four times during the Fall Meet. Asmussen’s roster of winner’s included Stonestreet Stable’s Kantharos, an impressive 9 ½-length winner of the 109th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor Stakes (GIII) for 2-year-olds on Saturday, July 3.  The victory by the unbeaten colt stamped him as an early contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) in November and the 137th Kentucky Derby (GI) next May.

Trainer Dale Romans, who finished second in the trainers’ race with 19 victories, hit the 500-victory milestone at Churchill Downs when Skipadate won the eighth race on June 17. Romans, a 43-year-old Louisville native, saddled his first winner at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12, 1987.

Maggi Moss earned her second leading owner title as she collected nine winners to edge Ken and Sarah Ramsey.  Moss’ other Churchill Downs title came in the 2007 Spring Meet.

Just Louise Well After Gritty Debutante Victory; Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird Set for Monday Works at Churchill Downs

DEBUTANTE WINNER JUST LOUISE FINE AFTER VICTORY – Eldon Farm Equine’s Just Louise was reported to be doing well Sunday morning, the day after her neck victory over Tristanme in the Debutante Stakes (GII)."She is doing good,” said Baldemar Bahena, assistant to trainer Dale Romans.

Romans indicated after the race that Just Louise would be pointed toward stakes action at Saratoga. The first 2-year-old filly stake at Saratoga is the Schuylerville (GIII) on July 23.

Bahena said the Romans horses heading to Saratoga would be leaving Churchill Downs beginning July 15.

Debutante favorite Salty Strike, who was caught in the last jump for second by Tristanme, was also doing well Sunday according to Philip Bauer, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek.

“She’s good this morning and she is tired,” Bauer said. “She ran hard, and to re-break again like she did at the quarter pole, that was pretty good.”

Bauer said the first two trucks shipping McPeek horses to Saratoga would be leave on Thursday with the possibility of Salty Strike being on board one of those trucks.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA, MINE THAT BIRD SET FOR MONDAY WORKS – There will be no racing at Churchill Downs on Monday, but there will still plenty of attention focused on the one-mile main track as 2009 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) are scheduled to work.

Rachel Alexandra, a dominant 10 ½-length winner last out in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), is scheduled for her final work over her home track before the 4-year-old champion heads to Saratoga on Wednesday.  The Steve Asmussen trainee regularly works in trainer Steve Asmussen’s second set around 6:15-6:30 a.m. (all times EDT).

Mine That Bird continues to prep for his first race since ninth-place finish behind unbeaten Zenyatta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on the synthetic Pro-Ride    surface at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, is scheduled to breeze just after the maintenance break at approximately 8:30 a.m. for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.  Jockey Calvin Borel will be in the saddle for Mine That Bird’s move.

Mine That Bird could make his return to competition during the closing weekend of Churchill Downs Spring Meet.  There are two possible races for Mine That Bird: an allowance race 1 1/16-miles on the main track on Saturday, July 3, and the 4-year-old gelding is also nominated to the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on turf on Sunday, July 4.

WISE RIVER’S FIRECRACKER REQUEST: NO RAIN, PLEASE – Trainer Clark Hanna has one, simple request for the weather gods with regard to next Sunday’s 20th running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course: Keep it dry!

Hanna trains Wise River, as solid and consistent a turf performer as there is as long as the course is firm.

“He just doesn’t like yielding turf and you have to hope for the best,” said Hanna, who has been training the 7-year-old Wise River since February 2008. “He is the best horse I have had and the most consistent. I’m a little hard-headed and have run him times I probably shouldn’t have because of yielding turf.”

Under Hanna’s care, Wise River has compiled a record of 12-4-3-1 in two-turn races on firm turf. Overall, the record in such races and conditions is 22-6-6-2 with his largest margin of defeat being only seven lengths in the Grade I Kilroe Mile last year at Santa Anita.

“He shows up every time and is usually 1-2-3,” Hanna said. “I even ran him short (5 ½ furlongs) this winter at New Orleans, which he doesn’t like, because he had no other spot to run and he was third.”
Wise River, a son of Belong to Me, broke his maiden at first asking in a one-mile turf test at Ellis Park. Three races later, Wise River opened his 3-year-old campaign by running second to Barbaro in the Tropical Park Derby (GIII).

At Churchill Downs, Wise River has compiled a record of 11-2-3-2 on the Matt Winn Turf Course and owns the course record for 1 1/16 miles (1:39.83 established April 26, 2009). Wise River’s past two turf starts here have come on yielding courses with typical yielding-course results for him: eighth in this spring’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) and sixth in last year’s Firecracker.

Owned by Don Benge, Wise River enters the Firecracker off a victory in the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap at Lone Star Park on May 31.

“He came out of the Texas race fine and I like the space between the races,” Hanna said. “I could have run in the prep for the Firecracker (the Opening Verse on June 11), but this gave us an extra week and a half.”

A week out, everything is looking good for Hanna and Wise River, whose career bankroll is $494,567 with a record of 36-7-10-5.

“The long-term forecast looks decent,” Hanna said. “He likes this track a lot and I’d rather run him here. If he doesn’t run here, I might go to the West Coast for the race the end of next month at Del Mar (the Grade I Eddie Read at 1 1/8 miles on July 24). It stays dry out there.”

ACOMA EXPECTED STARTING HIGH WEIGHT FOR LOCUST GROVE – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma has been assigned 121 pounds by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s 29th running of the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) at a mile over the Matt Winn Turf Course.

Acoma is expected to be the starting high weight in the race as Hot Cha Cha, assigned 122 pounds, is expected to bypass the Locust Grove for Modesty Handicap (GIII) at Arlington Park on July 17. Hot Cha Cha defeated Acoma by three-quarters of a length in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) here on June 5 while carrying 120 pounds to 122 for Acoma.

Barbara Hunter’s Keertana, who finished a head in back of Acoma in the Mint Julep while carrying 120 pounds, was assigned 120 for the Locust Grove.

Other probable Locust Grove starters and their weight assignments are Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Danzon (116), Vegso Racing Stables’ Happiness Is (114) and Magdalena Racing’s My Baby Baby (114).

Considered possible for the race is Hidden Brook’s Quiet Meadow (115).

Entries for the Locust Grove will be taken Wednesday.

BARN TALK – Trainer Bret Calhoun was all smiles Sunday morning after the 4 ½-length victory by Chamberlain Bridge in Saturday’s Arlington Sprint Handicap at 5 ½ furlongs. The race was a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) to be held here Nov. 6. “That’s the long-term goal. Now we figure out the best way to get here,” Calhoun said. “There is a race the end of July at Penn National (the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governors Cup Handicap at five furlongs) and then the Turf Monster ($250,000 on Sept. 6 at five furlongs) that he won last year at Philadelphia Park.” Options in October include the Woodford at Keeneland, a race Chamberlain Bridge won in 2008. …  

Another happy trainer Sunday was Dallas Stewart after his Seeking the Title won the Iowa Oaks (GIII) on Saturday night at Prairie Meadows by a half-length. Seeking the Title had been excluded from the Kentucky Oaks (GI) because of insufficient graded stakes earnings and then lost rider Kent Desormeaux in the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) at Pimlico when she tried to avoid a fallen horse. “We finally got a race without somebody falling down,” Stewart said with a chuckle of Seeking the Title, who had run sixth in the Acorn (GI) in her previous start. “She will go to Saratoga and may run in the Coaching Club of American Oaks (GI) on July 24 if it is not too quick. That’s a mile and an eighth and the further the better for her. She needs more ground and almost didn’t have enough last night.” Stewart also said multiple stakes winner Macho Again was on track to return to Saratoga with the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap (GI) as his objective. …

Trainer Tom Proctor said that debut maiden winner Well Connected will be heading to Saratoga after his 1 ¾-length victory on Saturday after breaking from post position 12 in the five-furlong sprint. “I think I will look for an allowance race for him around seven furlongs because I don’t want to run him short again at this time,” Proctor said. “The mare (Indy Groove) was precocious and she won from five-eighths to a mile and an eighth.” Well Connected is the first starter for Indy Groove, who ran sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) here for Proctor in 2004.

WORK TAB – Northern Dancer (GIII) winner Colizeo worked a half-mile over a fast track in :48.40. … Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) winner General Quarters worked a half-mile in :49. … Dogwood (GIII) runner-up Tap Tap Tapping worked a half-mile in :50.20 and Jefferson Cup (GIII) winner Gleam of Hope worked a half-mile in :52. Eighth-place Kentucky Derby (GI) finisher Stately Victor work five furlongs at the Trackside Training Center in 1:00 over a fast track.

Churchill Downs Presents Donations Of More Than $223,000 to Komen For the Cure, Horses & Hope, Dare to Care, UN Food Programme

Churchill Downs officials will present donation checks totaling $223,346 on Thursday, June 24, to four charitable organizations that benefited from fundraising partnerships with the Kentucky Oaks and the new Taste of Derby Presented by Yum Brands™, a new event introduced during Kentucky Derby Week.

Representatives of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, Horses and Hope, Dare to Care and The World Food Programme will be at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby Thursday afternoon to accept checks for the donations to their respective organizations and causes.  The donations will be presented to those groups during in the winner’s circle following the seventh race, which has a scheduled post time of 3:57 p.m. (EDT).

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world, will receive a check for $118,346 to help fund the search for a cure for breast cancer.  That donation grows out of the second year of the fundraising partnership between Komen for the Cure and the Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies held on the eve of the Kentucky Derby. 

Churchill Downs pledged to donate $1 for each person who attended the 2010 renewal of the Oaks, and a record crowd of 116,046 poured through the track’s admission gates on Friday, April 30.  Also included in the Komen fundraising total is $2,300 in winnings from the “Kentucky Oaks Dream Bet,” in which the track wagered $1,000 on each of the 14 fillies that competed in the race.  The winner was the favored Blind Luck, who paid $4.60 for each $2 win wager.

The partnership of Komen for the Cure and the Kentucky Oaks has generated $218,346 in breast cancer research funding during its first two years.

A check for $30,000 will be presented to Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear to benefit her Horses and Hope breast cancer outreach initiative in Kentucky’s horse industry.  Horses and Hope provides breast cancer screening and education to stable workers and other employees at Kentucky racetracks.  The check to be accepted by Mrs. Beshear represents the fulfillment of a Churchill Downs pledge to donate $1 from the sale of each of “Oaks Lily,” the signature drink of the Kentucky Oaks, on the day of the race.

The donations to the United Nations World Food Programme and Louisville’s  Dare to Care Food Bank grew out of the inaugural Taste of Derby, a celebration of food, racing and style hosted by Churchill Downs, which was held at Louisville’s Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center on Thursday, April 29.  The World Food Programme and Dare to Care are key partners in Taste of Derby’s presenting sponsor, Yum! Brands, own World Hunger Relief initiative, the world’s largest private-sector, hunger-relief effort.  Each program received half of the $70,000 in designated proceeds from the 2010 Taste of Derby.

“The fundraising efforts championed by Churchill Downs and these great organizations have produced exciting results, and we are pleased to formally present these contributions to our partners for work that is making a substantial difference in the lives of so many people,” said Dana Johnson, director of community relations for Churchill Downs.  “Kentucky Derby Week and the annual celebration of the Kentucky Oaks have long been important parts of life in this community and region, and it is very gratifying to Churchill Downs and our partners to see these celebrations help to raise critical funding for people in need in our community and beyond.”

Churchill Downs Winner Atta Boy Roy Heads Aristides; Eight 3-Year-Old Fillies in Saturday's Dogwood

R.E.V. Racing’s Atta Boy Roy, who scored a wire-to-wire victory in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day, will face five rivals Saturday in the 22nd running of the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) for older sprinters.

The six-furlong Aristides shares top billing on Saturday with the 36th running of the $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the main track. The Dogwood drew a field of eight, including two runners that competed four weeks ago behind the victorious Blind Luck in the 136th Kentucky Oaks (GI).

The Aristides goes as the eighth race on the 11-race program with an approximate post time of 4:29 p.m. (EDT). The Dogwood is the 10th race with a 5:29 p.m. post time. First post time Saturday is 12:45 p.m.

Trained by Valorie Lund, Atta Boy Roy drew the rail for the Aristides and will carry high weight of 124 pounds. Calvin Borel, who was aboard for the Derby Day victory, has the call Saturday as he shoots for his second Aristides win. Borel rode Bet On Sunshine to victory in 2001.

Second high weight in the Aristides belongs to Bertram, Richard and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, who will carry 122 pounds and break from post position five under Brian Hernandez Jr. Trained by Steve Margolis, Cash Refund has won five of six career starts and captured two sprint stakes this winter at Fair Grounds.

Bold Start won last year’s Aristides for trainer Ken McPeek with Robby Albarado riding.

The field for the Aristides, from the rail out, is as follows: Atta Boy Roy (Borel, 124 pounds), Chief of Affairs (Miguel Mena, 120), Lissa’s Star (Corey Lanerie, 118), Riley Tucker (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118), Cash Refund (Hernandez Jr., 122) and Cassoulet (Francisco Torres, 118).

Starlight Partners’ Ailalea, fifth in the Kentucky Oaks, and Twin Creeks Farm, Sky Chai Racing and Bluegrass Equine Center’s Age of Humor, 12th in the America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, headline the Dogwood field.

lalea, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the Tempted (GIII) at Aqueduct last fall and this year, prior to the Oaks, finished sixth in the Forward Gal (GII) at Gulfstream Park and sixth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII). Ailalea, breaking from post position four, will carry top weight of 123 pounds and be ridden by Calvin Borel, who won the Dogwood in 2007 on Lady Joanne.

Age of Humor, trained by Mike Maker, opened the year with a victory in the Busanda at Aqueduct and followed that up with a third-place finish in the Silverbulletday (GIII) at Fair Grounds and a runner-up finish in the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) at Turfway Park. Francisco Torres has the call on Age of Humor, who will carry 117 pounds and break from post position two. Torres won the 2000 Dogwood on Welcome Surprise.

Hightap won last year’s Dogwood for trainer Steve Asmussen with Shaun Bridgmohan riding. That duo is represented Saturday by the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Vertical Vision, a two-time stakes winner in 2009. Vertical Vision will carry 119 pounds and break from post position six.

The field for the Dogwood, from the rail out, is as follows: Tap Tap Tapping (Freddie Lenclud, 117 pounds), Age of Humor (Torres, 117), Fuzzy Britches (Corey Lanerie, 119), Ailalea (Borel, 123), Helen Belen (Sal Gonzalez Jr., 119), Vertical Vision (Bridgmohan, 119), Visavis (Jamie Theriot, 117) and Bell’s Shoes (Jon Court, 117).

Racing Resumes Thursday, May 6 with Big Carryovers in Pick 6, Super Hi-5

Racing returns to historic Churchill Downs on Thursday, May 6 after a four-day break that followed memorable renewals of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Kentucky Oaks with a 10-race program highlighted by large carryover pools in both its Pick 6 and Super Hi-5 wagers.

The Pick 6, which requires bettors to select the winners of six consecutive races, returns on Thursday in races 5-10 with a two-day Oaks-Derby carryover of $947,641.  The Super Hi-5, which is offered in the day’s final race and requires fans to select its first five finishers in the correct order, returns with a carryover of $147,055 that remained when no one hit the Derby Hi-5 wager in Saturday’s ”Run for the Roses” won by WinStar Farm’s Super Saver.

Post time for the first of Thursday’s 10 races is 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT) and the 5th race, which begins the Pick 6 sequence, has a scheduled post time of 2:53 p.m. The 10th race, which features the Super Hi-5 has a scheduled post of 5:28 p.m.

The Pick-6 sequence looms as a challenging exercise for racing fans with large, competitive fields of Thoroughbreds.  It opens with a field of nine horses entered in the 5th race and is followed by the 6th (11horses), 7th (9), 8th (12), 9th (8 horses, including a coupled entry), and the 10th (a full field of 12 with two also-eligibles), which is also the Thursday’s Super Hi-5 race.

Along with the return of live racing, simulcasting is set to resume at Trackside at Churchill Downs in the track’s clubhouse after spending most of April at Trackside Louisville on Poplar Level Road, which was unable to opens its doors last Sunday because of a power outage.  Fans who wish to cash their Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby 136 mutuel tickets and were unable to do so because of Sunday’s power outage will be admitted free to Trackside at Churchill when they produce one of those tickets at the gate.  Free admission will be granted to those patrons through Sunday, May 9.

Admission gates open on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.  Post time for the first race in Churchill Downs’ Thursday-Sunday racing schedule this week is 12:45 p.m., with the exception of Friday’s 2:45 p.m. post time for the first session of “Dress to Impress Friday Happy Hours” sponsored by Budweiser Select.
Saturday’s racing program features the return of the popular “Get in the Game” seminars conducted by Churchill Downs racing analyst Jill Byrne.  The seminar will be  conducted in the Paddock, weather permitting, and will begin at 11:45 a.m.

Sunday is Mother’s Day at the Downs and fans have the opportunity to treat Mom to a delicious Mother’s Day Brunch and enjoy a day of terrific racing at the home of the Kentucky Derby.  Reservations are required for the spectacular Levy Restaurants’ brunch in Millionaires Row 4 & 6, Skye Terrace 5 and the Stakes Room, all of which offer a spectacular view of the track, admission, reserved seat and racing program.  Reservations may be made online through Churchill Downs’ Box Office at http://tickets.churchilldowns.com/.

Revitalized Derby Trial Kicks Off 42-Day Spring Meet, Kentucky Derby Week at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs raises the curtain on Kentucky Derby Week and its 2010 Spring Meet on Saturday, April 24 with  the revitalized $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (Grade III) set as the featured event on an 11-program kicks off what bids to be a memorable 42-day racing session that will includes four “Downs After Dark” night racing sessions under permanent lights and a compelling schedule of special events.

Along with the outstanding racing on the opening day of the spring racing session, the first 5,000 patrons through the Churchill Downs admission gates will receive a voucher redeemable for an Opening Day T-Shirt sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.  The T-Shirt can be used to gain free admission to the track every weekday throughout the meet, starting Thursday, May 6.  Opening Day fans may also register to win the Kentucky Garland Escort Package, which includes tickets to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and the opportunity to escort famed Garland of Roses that goes to the Kentucky Derby winner to the Derby Winner’s Circle, also compliments of Fifth Third Bank.

Admission to Churchill Downs during the Spring Meet is $3 and $1 for seniors and Twin Spires Club members.  Exceptions include April 29-30, May 1 and “Downs After Dark” racing on June 11, 18 & 25 and July 2.  “Downs After Dark” admission is $10.  Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a parent.

Post time for Saturday’s opening racing session is 12:45 p.m. (all times EST) and admission gates open at 11:00 a.m.  The 12:45 p.m. will continue through most of Kentucky Derby Week – there will be no racing on Monday or Tuesday – and for most of the Spring Meet.  There is a special 10:30 a.m. post time on both Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Days, then there will be no racing beneath the historic Twin Spires until Thursday, May 6.  Daily post time after Kentucky Derby Week will remain at 12:45 p.m., with the exception of:

  • Fridays after Derby Week except June 11, 18, 25 and July 2: 2:45 p.m. ET.
  • Special 6 p.m. “Downs After Dark” night racing under the track’s new permanent light system on Fridays, June 11, 18, 25 and July 2.

The track’s 136th Spring Meet is headed by the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on Saturday, May 1 and the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, April 30.  Those  races headline a stakes schedule for the April 24-July 4 Spring Meet with total purses of  $7.1 million.

The Cliff’s Derby Trial on Saturday, April 24 gets the stakes schedule off to a spectacular start as the 86th running of the last of the spring’s Kentucky Derby prep races has a new sponsor in Thoroughbred owner and breeder Robert LaPenta and the race is named in honor of his star The Cliff’s Edge, who finished fifth in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.  The Grade III race carries a record purse of $200,000-added, has been restored to its traditional one-mile distance and looms as an important Kentucky Derby prep for the first time in years.

The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap on June 12+`, respectively, head three special event days that consist of five or more stakes races with total purses in excess of $1 million.  The biggest of those days is Kentucky Derby Day, which includes six stakes races with total purses of $3.35 million.  Kentucky Oaks Day features the main event and five other stakes races with total purses of $1.325 million.  And five stakes races set for Stephen Foster Handicap Day carry total purses of $1.15 million.

The Stephen Foster Handicap racing program on Saturday, June 12 shares the spotlight with the return of Kentucky Derby Alumni Day, which will feature appearances by Derby stars from the illustrious decade of the 1970’s that produced three Triple Crown winners.

Popular recurring events during the 2010 Spring Meet include:

  • Dress to Impress Friday Happy Hours sponsored by Budweiser Select (beginning Friday, May 7);
  • "Get in the Game” Seminars with Jill Byrne beginning May 8;
  • “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Tournament on Sundays May 16, 23 & 30 and June 6 & 13;
  • Senior Days on Thursday June 10, 17 & 24.

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is "Rachelesque' in Six-Furlong Work

Stonestreet Stable and Harold McCormick’s Rachel Alexandra turned in a sizzling six-furlong workout on Monday at Churchill Downs as the reigning Horse of the Year displayed increasing sharpness as she nears a return to competition.

Trainer Steve Asmussen’s 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro covered the distance over a fast track in 1:11.40 shortly after 6 a.m. (EDT).   She worked in fractional times of :12.40, :24.40, :36.40, :48 and :59.40 under Dominic Terry and the champion galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24.1.  The work was the fastest of seven at the distance.

It was her Rachel Alexandra’s third work since her return to Churchill Downs and her second consecutive move at six furlongs.  Last Monday she breezed that distance in :1:12 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.20.  She had breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 a week earlier.

“She worked crazy good,” said Asmussen.  “She’s had three works here since she’s been here and they have been extremely ‘Rachelesque.’ I’m happy to see her putting in work like she did last year.”

There is still no decision on the race that will mark Rachel Alexandra’s return to competition.  She has competed only once since a victory over males last fall in the Woodward (GI) at Saratoga – the first win by a female of any age in that prestigious race.  She was defeated in her only start this year when she was upset by Zardana in a runner-up finish in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds on March 13.

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra Works A Sharp Five Furlongs

Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra worked a strong six furlongs on Monday in her second major training move since her return to her home base at Churchill Downs.

Stonestreet Stable and Harold McCormick’s reigning Horse of the Year covered the distance over “fast” footing in 1:12 under regular training partner Dominic Terry.  The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro worked in fractional times of :12.80, :25.40, :37.20, :48.40 and 1:00.20.  The Steve Asmussen-trained champion galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.20.

The move was easily the fastest of seven at the distance.  In terms of comparison, two other Asmussen-trained stars – the brilliant 3-year-old filly Hot Dixie Chick and 2009 Louisiana Derby (GII) and beaten Kentucky Derby 135 favorite Friesan Fire also breezed six furlongs. Hot Dixie Chick was timed in 1:13.40 and Friesan Fire covered the distance in 1:12.80.

”I was very pleased with her work,” Asmussen said.  “She looks happy and she cooled out great.  It was a very strong move.”

Rachel Alexandra, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Oaks (GI) by a record 20 ¼ lengths over the same track nearly a year ago, turned in a solid five-furlong work in 1:00.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 a week earlier in her first work at Churchill Downs since last fall.  But Monday’s move was stronger throughout and Asmussen said his team would be looking at how she recovers from it as the filly’s next racing step is assessed.

“I’m very anxious to see her attitude off of the work,” he said.  “How she acts, how she rests in her stall and if she’s comfortable with everything we’re doing.  From a work standpoint it was very impressive and fast, which she is.”

Asmussen said there is still no decision on the race that will mark Rachel Alexandra’s return to competition.  She has raced only once since a victory over males last fall in the Woodward (GI) at Saratoga – the first win by a female of any age in that prestigious race.  But she lost her only race this year when she surrendered the lead in the stretch to eventual winner Zardana in a runner-up finish in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies on March 13 at Fair Grounds.  The defeat resulted in the scrapping of plans for a match between Rachel Alexandra and the unbeaten Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI)-winning mare Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom (GI) at Oaklawn Park, a race the latter won with ease at the Hot Springs, Ark. track last Friday.

So Rachel Alexandra’s response from Monday’s strong six-furlong workout at Churchill Downs will be significant as her team considers her next move.

“We’re trying to get her back in the rhythm that she had success with last year,” Asmussen said, “because we were very unsuccessful in trying to alter that.”

GENERAL QUARTERS WORKS – Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, 10th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and second to Battle Plan in the recent New Orleans Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds, worked five furlongs in :50.20 over a “fast” track around 9 a.m. ET on Monday.

Jockey Robby Albarado was in the saddle for the work, which ranked 19th among 28 at the distance.  The 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa is preparing for a run in the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day.  General Quarters won the 2009 rrenewal of the Toyota Blue Grass (G) at Keeneland, but has not won since.

WORK TAB (Track - FAST) -- In other Monday morning works, multiple stakes winner Acoma breezed four furlongs in :48.80 … Hightap breezed four furlongs in :49.80 … Kensei worked five furlongs in 1:02.20.

Churchill Downs Issues 'Pink Fridays' Challenge

Got pink? Churchill Downs and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, are issuing the people of Louisville a challenge to “Get Your Pink On!” each Friday leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks to honor breast cancer survivors.

Pink is the official color of both breast cancer awareness and the April 30 Kentucky Oaks – the Kentucky Derby’s companion event for 3-year-old fillies; therefore, Churchill Downs, in conjunction with its Oaks Day charitable partner Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is staging its second PINK OUT at the track on Oaks Day. All Oaks attendees are encouraged to wear pink or to incorporate pink into their attire for the day to show their support.

To celebrate PINK FRIDAYS during the month of April, Churchill Downs and its PINK PATROL will award a local business, restaurant, school and boutique that best “Pinks Out” its establishment with pink decorations, trim, products and clothing. Weekly winners will receive a surprise Friday afternoon visit by the Churchill Downs PINK PATROL with free third floor grandstand box seats for six on Kentucky Oaks Day. In addition, all winners will be saluted and recognized on Kentucky Oaks Day during a winner’s circle ceremony in conjunction with the 12th race.

To participate, simply log onto Facebook.com, search Kentucky Oaks (Brand/Company), “Become A Fan” of Kentucky Oaks and post your “PINK OUT” photo on the official Kentucky Oaks Facebook page.

PINK FRIDAYS’ weekly PINK PATROL prize schedule:

·    Businesses and Restaurants – Post “PINK OUT” photos by Wednesday, April 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET; winner to be announced Friday, April 9;
·    Schools – Post “PINK OUT” photos by Wednesday, April 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET; winner to be announced Friday, April 16; and
·    Boutiques – Post “PINK OUT” photos by Wednesday, April 21 at 11:59 p.m. ET; winner to be announced Friday, April 23.

Continuing a commitment to new Kentucky Oaks Day traditions established a year ago, Churchill Downs and Susan G. Komen for the Cure renewed their partnership to raise funds to aid in breast cancer awareness and research through Kentucky Oaks Day events.

The Kentucky Oaks will once again be televised live on NBC Sports’ sister cable network Bravo from 5-6 p.m. EDT. The one-hour broadcast will spotlight the 1 1/8-mile Oaks with an additional focus on fashion, cuisine, the celebrity experience associated with Kentucky Oaks Day and Churchill Downs’ renewed partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

For more information on the Kentucky Oaks, please visit www.KentuckyOaks.com.

About Churchill Downs Incorporated
    Churchill Downs Incorporated, (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates four world renowned Thoroughbred racing facilities: Arlington Park in Illinois, Calder Casino and Race Course in Florida, Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana.  CDI operates slot and gaming operations in Louisiana and Florida.  CDI tracks are host to North America’s most prestigious races, including the Arlington Million, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, the Louisiana Derby and the Princess Rooney, along with hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5-6, 2010.  CDI also owns off-track betting facilities, TwinSpires.com and other advance-deposit wagering channels, television production, telecommunications and racing service companies such as BRIS and a 50-percent interest in the national cable and satellite network, HorseRacing TV, which supports CDI’s network of simulcasting and racing operations.  CDI’s Entertainment Group produces the HullabaLOU Music Festival at Churchill Downs Racetrack which premieres on July 23-25, 2010.  CDI trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

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Simulcast Wagering Shifts to Trackside Louisville; 60 New Flat Screen TVs Installed

Churchill Downs will shift simulcast wagering operations to its Trackside Louisville facility at 4520 Poplar Level Road starting Wednesday for the month-long lead-up to Kentucky Derby 136. The necessary annual move is done to minimize inconvenience for customers as track officials prepare the landmark Louisville racetrack for hosting the typical Derby Day crowd of about 150,000.

Churchill Downs recently installed 60 new 47-inch flat screen televisions at Trackside Louisville. Other improvements, including a new roof above the popular hangout “Warner’s Corner,” were made as well.

Simulcast wagering will be offered five days a week (dark Mondays and Tuesdays) for an admission fee of $3 ($1 for Twin Spires Club members and seniors age 60 and up). Admission gates at Trackside Louisville will open at 11:30 a.m. (Note: Churchill Downs’ Gold Room 6 will remain open throughout the month of April for eligible Twin Spires Club Members.)

Simulcast wagering will return to Churchill Downs on Saturday, April 24 for the start of the 42-day Spring Meet. It will remain on-track through Thursday, April 29, before shifting back to Trackside Louisville for Kentucky Derby weekend (Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2). Trackside Louisville admission gates will open at 9 a.m. for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, and admission for those days will be $10. Gates will open at noon on Sunday, May 2 and admission will be free.

Simulcast wagering will return to Churchill Downs on Thursday, May 6, following dark days at the racetrack May 2-5.

The temporary relocation of Churchill Downs’ simulcast wagering operation comes just prior to opening day at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, April 2.

    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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