Churchill Downs

LeAnn Rimes to Sing National Anthem at Kentucky Derby 135

Churchill Downs today announced that multiple-award winner and country music superstar LeAnn Rimes will help the historic racetrack launch a modern-day Kentucky Derby tradition when she performs the national anthem live as part of the ceremonies leading up to the 135th running of the Grade I Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 2, 2009.  Rimes’ performance will be the first live vocal performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” by a national recording artist on Derby Day and will be televised by NBC Sports as part of its pre-race coverage, which begins at 4 p.m. EDT.

“Churchill Downs is honored to have such an accomplished, respected and gifted singer as LeAnn Rimes perform the national anthem before the tens of thousands of Derby fans watching in person from the racetrack on the first Saturday in May, as well as the millions of television viewers who will share in the experience from Derby parties around the country while watching NBC’s coverage on May 2,” said Kevin Flanery, senior vice president of Churchill Downs Incorporated.  “We know how special Derby Day and its many traditions are to fans around the world, and we are careful to only add new elements to the Derby collage when we are confident they will make for a more entertaining and memorable event. We believe LeAnn Rimes is the perfect performer to help us begin a 21st century Derby tradition – one that has been a long-standing and well-accepted part of other major sporting events.”

Rimes’ singing of the national anthem will take place shortly after 5 p.m. EDT and will be one of two performances of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Churchill Downs on May 2.  The Fort Knox Army Band, which has performed an instrumental version of the national anthem near the start of the race card for many years, will continue to do so with this year’s instrumental performance slated for shortly after noon EDT.

LeAnn Rimes has sold more than 38 million albums, won two Grammy Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards and was recently named “Humanitarian of the Year” at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards – quite an accomplishment for a 26-year-old performing artist. The Jackson, Miss., native, who recorded her first album at the tender age of seven, is the youngest Grammy Award-winner in history and was the first country recording artist to win the Grammy’s “Best New Artist” category.

In 2008, Rimes released her critically acclaimed album, Family, which was entirely co-written by Rimes. With the lead single, the Grammy-nominated “Nothin’ Better to Do,” Rimes became the first artist to have a song on Billboard’s Country, Adult Contemporary and Dance charts simultaneously. In 2008, Rimes won the CMT Award for “Collaborative Video of the Year” with Bon Jovi and claimed the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award for her song from the Evan Almighty movie soundtrack.  Rimes has scored numerous hit singles in her career, including “Can’t Fight The Moonlight,” which climbed to No. 1 in 11 countries, and “How Do I Live,” which holds the record for the longest charting song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at 69 weeks.

LeAnn Rimes has acted in film and television productions and in early 2009 starred in a Lifetime original movie, Nora Roberts’ “Northern Lights.” An accomplished author, Rimes is also the creator of the children’s books Jag and Jag’s New Friend, as well as Holiday In Your Heart, which was later adapted into an network television special starring Rimes. She has also launched WhatICannotChange.com, a Web site inspired by her music single of the same name, hoping to encourage forgiveness and acceptance by giving fans the chance to share their personal stories.  This month, Rimes released a book of the same name inspired by the stories she culled from fan postings on that Web site.

Tickets to Kentucky Derby 135 and its companion event, Kentucky Oaks 135, can be purchased online at www.kentuckyderby.com/2009/tickets.

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 conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009.  The track’s 2009 Spring Meet will take place from April 25 through July 5.  Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

Arkansas Derby Winner Papa Clem Arrives At Churchill Downs For Kentucky Derby 135

Bo Hirsch’s homebred Papa Clem, winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (Grade II) on April 11 at Oaklawn Park, arrived at Churchill Downs late Tuesday afternoon to continue his preparation for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

    Papa Clem flew from Arkansas to Lexington, Ky., then traveled just over an hour by van to Churchill Downs.  He arrived at the Louisville track at 5:30 p.m. (all times EDT) and took up residence in Barn 10A, which houses horses trained by Cody Autrey.

    The Gary Stute-trained Papa Clem was ridden by former Churchill Downs leading rider Rafael Bejarano when the son of Smart Strike won the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby on April 11.  The victory was his first stakes triumph and improved his record to 2-2-0 in six races and lifted his earnings to $790,940.

    The arrival of Papa Clem raises the number of likely Kentucky Derby contenders on the grounds to seven.  The others are Wood Memorial (GI) winner I Want Revenge; Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner General Quarters; Illinois Derby (GII) winner Musket Man; and Regal Ransom and Desert Party, Godolphin’s 1-2 finishers in the $2 million UAE Derby (GII).

    Seven horses trained by three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert – headed by Kentucky Oaks (GI) candidate Gabby’s Golden Gal and multiple stakes winner Indian Blessing – arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday afternoon.  The Baffert horses settled into Barn 33, the trainer’s tradition spot under the Twin Spires.  Baffert’s Kentucky Derby contender, Zayat Stable’s Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Pioneerof the Nile, is scheduled to arrive at the Louisville track on Thursday, April 16.

    Gabby’s Golden Gal, a 13-length winner of the Sunland Park Oaks, joins likely favorite Rachel Alexandra as the only Kentucky Oaks candidates on the grounds.  Indian Blessing, runner-up to Big City Man in the $2 million Golden Shaheen at Dubai’s Nad Al Sheba on March 28, is set to run in the Humana Distaff (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day.

    The Baffert group also included 3-year-olds Mythical Power and Turk.  Both are nominated to the $100,000-added Derby Trial (GIII) on April 25, the opening day of the track’s Spring Meet.  Diamond Tags, a 3-year-old filly nominated to the $100,000 Eight Belles (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day, is also settling in at the Baffert barn.

Kentucky Oaks 135 Update - Dream Play Rolls in Comely

Stewart Armstrong’s favored Dream Play cruised to an early lead over a sloppy track at Aqueduct was never seriously challenged as she romped to a 5 ¼-length victory in Saturday’s $147,000 Comely (Grade III).

The race marked Dream Play’s first try at a distance beyond six furlongs and her initial run over a wet racing surface, but the daughter of Hennessy passed both tests beautifully as she covered the mile distance in 1:39.51 under jockey Eddie Castro.  The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee won for the third time in five races and pushed her career earnings to $186,406.

“My opinion was to go onto the lead,” said Castro. “She’s run good on the lead, but not so good when she’s not in front. I was able to get up pretty easily and when I asked her, she kicked in.”

Don’t Forget Gil, an easy winner of the Florida Oaks (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs last time out, finished second and Holdontoyourdream was third.

The Comely result was a major disappointment for IEAH Stable’s Laragh, winner of the Hollywood Starlet (GI) and third to champion Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.  The John Terranova-trained daughter of Tapit was making her 3-year-old debut in the Comely and a strong effort could have landed her a start in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs on May 1.  Laragh chased Dream Play early, but faded in the stretch and finished last in the field of five 3-year-old fillies.

Despite her impressive Comely win, Dream Play is not a candidate for the Kentucky Oaks.  She could make her next start in the $150,000 Nassau County at a mile at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby Day, May 2.  The Grade I Acorn at a mile on June 6 will also be considered.

KENTUCKY/JUSTWHISTLEDIXIE WORKS TOWARD KENTUCKY OAKS AT KEENELAND – West Point Thoroughbreds’ streaking Justwhistledixie continued her preparation for the Kentucky Oaks with a four-furlong work on Friday, April 10 over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland.

The winner of five consecutive races worked a half-mile in :50.40.  The daughter of Dixie Union, who is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, won the Bonnie Miss (GII) and Davona Dale (GII), both at Gulfstream Park, in her most recent outings. 

Justwhistledixie was the favorite over champion Stardom Bound and Fantasy (GII) winner Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wage In March.

Stardom Bound Back On Track – Stardom Bound, America’s reigning 2-year-old filly champion, jogged Sunday at Keeneland in her first trip to the track since her upset loss in the $400,000 Ashland (GI) over the Lexington track on April 7.

Her third-place finish behind 24-1 shot Hooh Why in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland snapped a string of five consecutive Grade I stakes victories for the Rick Dutrow Jr.-trained Stardom Bound.

Laragh Returns to Racing

IEAH Stable’s Laragh, one of the outstanding 2-year-old fillies of 2008, will make her debut as a 3-year-old in Saturday’s 60th running of the $150,000 Comely (Grade II) at Aqueduct.

The daughter of Tapit finished a good third to champion Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), and then completed out her 2-year-old season with a victory in the Hollywood Starlet (GI) over the synthetic surface at Hollywood Park.

The $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs remains a goal for trainer John Terranova’s filly, but the one-mile Comely is obviously an important stepping stone for Laragh.  It will also mark the debut on dirt for Terranova’s filly, who started her career on the grass.

“She’s bigger, she’s stronger, and hopefully, she’s faster,” Terranova said.  “We had originally planned on bringing her back in March, but the extra time off did her a world of good.  We went right to the end of last year with her with a lot of traveling, and the transition to age two to age three is a real jump.”

Ramon Dominguez will ride Laragh, who faces five rivals in the Comely.  That group includes Florida Oaks (GIII) winner Don’t Forget Gil; Dream Play, the beaten favorite in the Cicada (GIII); and Busher runner-up Subprime.

KENTUCKY/RACHEL ALEXANDRA BACK HOME – L & M Stable’s Rachel Alexandra, a dominant winner of the Fantasy (GI) at Oaklawn and the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in her last two races, arrived back home at Churchill Downs early Thursday following an overnight van ride from Oaklawn Park.

Trainer Hal Wiggins’ daughter of Medaglia d’Oro looms as the likely favorite for the Kentucky Oaks as she brings a four-race winning streak and six victories in nine career races into her scheduled start in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 1.  Rachel Alexandra notched the first win of that streak in a romp in the Golden Rod (GII) in November at Churchill Downs.

War Kill ($35.40) upsets Evita Argentina in Keeneland’s Beaumont – Longshot War Kill ($35.40), making her stakes debut for trainer Ken McPeek, survived a stretch-long duel with winner Selva to win Wednesday’s $150,000 Beaumont Stakes (GII at Keeneland.

Julien Leparoux rode the winner, who covered the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs, 184 feet over the Polytrack surface in 1:25.97.  Consequence was third and favored Evita Argentina, settled for fourth in the field of six fillies.

Evita Argentina might have earned a Kentucky Oaks start with a big effort.  McPeek was not looking in that direction with War Kill, though he was unsure of her next start.

“She’s not a big package but she’s got a huge heart,” McPeek said.  “We’ll let the dust settle and figure it out.  She’s obviously got a lot of talent.”

Churchill Downs Gains Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Approval for Three Night Racing Dates, Two New Wagers

Churchill Downs has been granted permission by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”) to conduct three historic sessions of night racing during its April 25-July 5 Spring Meet.  The regulatory panel has also granted approval to the track’s request to offer two new wagers during the meet.

The approval for the first night racing sessions in the 135-year history of Churchill Downs was granted by the KHRC during its regular meeting in Lexington, Ky. on Tuesday, April 7.  The regulatory panel also approved a new 50-cent Pick 4 wager that will be offered at the track each day – including Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days – along with a new multi-day $1 Pick 3 wager that links three Grade I races conducted on Derby Weekend: the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the Kentucky Oaks and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

Now that the track has KHRC approval, Churchill Downs will move ahead with plans to install temporary lights on the track and in its parking lots for night racing programs scheduled for two Friday nights, June 19 and 26, and Thursday, July 2, which leads into the July 3-5 Independence Day holiday weekend.

“This is a very important day for Churchill Downs and we appreciate the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s approval and enthusiasm for our night racing plan,” said Jim Gates, general manager of Churchill Downs.  “Early reaction from our community, neighbors around the track and our horsemen to our night racing plans has been very positive, and we look forward to an exciting and historic night on June 19 when racing under the lights is conducted for the first time in the 135-year history of Churchill Downs.  Now that we have approval to move ahead with night racing, we’ll finalize our plans to make these night racing programs special and memorable for everyone who joins us under the Twin Spires on those evenings.”

Churchill Downs plans 11 races on each of those night racing programs.  The KHRC vote of approval of night racing also included the panel’s okay to amend its original racing dates request to add two races to its Thursday, July 2 to raise that evening’s number of races to 11, and reduce races scheduled for Friday, July 3 to nine.  

The track plans for its night racing dates call for a post time for the evening’s first race at 6 p.m. (all times EDT).  The racing program on Friday, July 3 will open with a first race post time of 2:45 p.m.  Post times for the first race during the rest of the meet will be at 12:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. for its popular “Friday Happy Hour” programs that begin on Friday, May 8.  Exceptions are on Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days, May 1-2, which will open with a first race on each day at 10:30 a.m.

Details of the new Churchill Downs wagers that received KHRC approval include:

50-Cent Pick 4 – Pick 4 bets will be available for just 50 cents – half of the current minimum wager of $1 – on all of those multi-race wagers offered during the meet...  The Pick 4 is one of Churchill Downs’ most popular multi-race wagers and the 50-cent minimum bet should provide fans with a greater chance for success in that wager.

Oaks-Derby Pick 3 – This two-day wager was inspired by the success of the Oaks-Derby double, which requires bettors to correctly select the winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.  The $1 minimum multi-day wager requires the patron to correctly select the winners of three Grade I events held annually on Oaks and Derby Days.  Those races include the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 1; the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which is one of America’s top turf races and annually is the race that precedes the Kentucky Derby; and the “Run for the Roses.”

Wood Memoral Winner I Want Revenge Favored In Final Pool of Churchill Downs Derby Future Wager

David Lanzman and IEAH Stable's I Want Revenge, who overcame a poor start and significant traffic concerns to win Saturday's Wood Memorial (GI) at Aqueduct, emerged a solid favorite to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) as the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager ("KDFW") completed its four-day run on Sunday, April 5.

            The Jeff Mullins-trained son of Stephen Got Even, now unbeaten in two races over traditional dirt, left a strong impression on bettors after clearing several obstacles to win the 1 1/8-mile Wood, was the 9-2 fans' choice when KDFW Pool 3 betting concluded at 6 p.m. (EDT) at  racetracks and satellite wagering centers across North America.  Edward P. Evans' Quality Road, winner of the Florida Derby (GI) and the favorite through the first two days of Pool 3 betting, closed as the 6-1 second choice.  Vinery LLC and Fox Hill Farm's Friesan Fire, the Louisiana Derby (GII) winner, was the 8-1 third choice, and Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Pioneerof the Nile was next at 9-1.  Florida Derby runner-up Dunkirk was next at 11-1 and Old Fashioned, who figures to be among the favorites for next week's Arkansas Derby (GII) closed at 12-1.

Pool 3 ended with 23 wagering interests after betting on Sham (GII) winner The Pamplemousse (#21) was suspended on Sunday afternoon following the announcement that concern over a tendon would knock the colt out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby.  Under the official rules of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, no scratches or refunds are permitted in the wager.  But wagering must be suspended when Churchill Downs officials determine that an injury, illness or other issue will prevent that horse from competing in the Kentucky Derby.  All money wagered on The Pamplemousse to the point of the suspension remained in the pool, but no additional betting was allowed.

            Wagering during Pool 3's four-day run totaled $377,158, with $108,278 of that wagered in the exacta pool.  KDFW Pool 3 was only the second in the 11-year history of the Kentucky Derby Future bet to offer exacta betting.  Both the Future Wager's traditional "win" bet and its exacta require a minimum wager of $2.

            Pool 3 betting pushed total wagering on the three pools of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager to $1,236,299.

.           The Kentucky Derby Future Wager provides fans the opportunity to wager on contenders for the 2009 "Run for the Roses" at odds that could be far more attractive than those they would receive on the day of the race. Final payouts on both the win and exacta wagers in KDFW Pool 2 are determined by the odds in place at conclusion of the pool. 

The 135th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is scheduled for Saturday, May 2 at Churchill Downs. 

Real time odds, exacta payouts and other information on the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available on the official event Web site at www.kentuckyderby.com

Injury Knocks The Pamplemousse Out of Kentucky Derby; Wagering Suspended in Derby Futures

A leg injury has knocked Sham Stakes (GIII) winner The Pamplemousse out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby and wagering on the colt in Pool 3 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager was suspended Sunday afternoon.

The Pamplemousse was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby shortly before Saturday's race because of concern over the condition of a tendon, but his connections said the Kentucky Derby remained an option.  But co-owner Alex Solis II announced on Sunday that The Pamplemousse was definitely out of the Kentucky Derby picture and would undergo tests to determine what treatment would be required for the injury.

"He's comfortable, he's fine," Solis told Blood-Horse.  "He's going to run again.  He's not finished, but he will not run in the Kentucky Derby."

Under the official rules of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, no scratches or refunds are permitted in the wager.  But wagering must be suspended when Churchill Downs officials determine that an injury, illness or other issue will prevent that horse from competing in the Kentucky Derby.  All money wagered to the point of the suspension remains in the pool, but no additional betting is allowed on the horse.

Pool 3 betting on the Pamplemousse was suspended at approximately 4:50 p.m. (all times EDT).  The Pamplemousse was listed at 10-1 in oddsmaker Mike Battaglia's morning line for Pool 3, but those odds had drifted up to 15-1 following his defection from the Santa Anita Derby.  Wagering in the pool is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. 

Nick Ferrara (AKA 'RiNickulous') Named Chief Party Officer for Kentucky Derby 135

With Kentucky Derby 135® just around the corner, Churchill Downs, the legendary racetrack that hosts the annual “Run for the Roses,” has announced that Nick Ferrara, also known as “RiNickulous,” will be the new Chief Party Officer (CPO) of the 2009 Kentucky Derby infield.  The reigning CPO, Tim “Stymie” Snyder will formally relinquish his party-ruling duties today, making Ferrara the official master of the “People’s Party” on Saturday, May 2, 2009.

“First of all, I’d just like to thank the Academy…no, but seriously, this is ridiculously cool,” said Ferrara, the new Chief Party Officer of Kentucky Derby 135. “Being named the new CPO is a total honor and I can’t wait to prove to the folks at Churchill Downs that they picked the right partier for the job. I have some pretty big shoes to fill, but I have the party know-how and more than a few tricks up my sleeve.

“Churchill Downs has also asked me to share some great news with their infield guests.  Coolers will again be allowed in the infield at Churchill Downs for this year’s Kentucky Derby (May 2) and Kentucky Oaks (May 1)! I know that coolers were a big part of the infield vibe in years past, and with everybody’s partying funds being tight these days, I think it’s great that Churchill Downs management, with the support of law enforcement officials, decided it was time to bring back this great tradition.”

“Spending the past year as the Chief Party Officer was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I want to thank Churchill Downs for entrusting me with the opportunity to pay homage to the millions of Derby fans that have called the infield home for many years,” said outgoing CPO Tim “Stymie” Snyder. “I’m going to spend this Derby enjoying my CPO emeritus status, checking out the new Infield Club, and firing back some mint juleps. I am also happy to serve as an advisor to ‘RiNickulous’ if he wants any tips. I’ve talked to the new CPO and believe me, the People’s Party is in good hands!”

Ferrara, 30, hails from Southern California and grew up across the street from the famed Santa Anita Race Course, which hosts the Santa Anita Derby, an annual Kentucky Derby prep race.  Ferrara has long held an interest in horse racing, having owned racehorses before.  He was selected from a group of more than 300 individuals who applied for 2009 CPO contest through www.ChiefPartyOfficer.com and through 2008 CPO Stymie Snyder’s visit to Super Bowl XLVIII in Tampa, Fla.

The perks to serving as the public ambassador for the Kentucky Derby infield, which annually draws approximately 100,000 fans during Derby weekend, are numerous. Not only will Ferrara serve as the official “spokesperson” for the infield and participate in numerous media interviews about infield party preparations, he will also preside over a specially designated CPO infield encampment throughout Derby weekend. The CPO’s luxurious “boardroom on wheels” will be a deluxe recreational vehicle that will offer food and hospitality, games and activities, and a photo booth to capture all of the craziness of the People’s Party.

Derby fans can check out the CPO’s official Facebook page, by visiting www.Facebook.com and typing “Chief Party Officer” in the search engine.  Visitors must be a Facebook member to view the page.  Registration is free.

“I know it seems early, but now is the time to start planning your trip to the People’s Party in the infield on Derby weekend,” Ferrara added. “Churchill Downs is making it really easy this year to buy tickets in advance, so you can save all of your cash for betting on the ponies and other ‘spirited’ activities. It’s really easy to go online to http://www.kentuckyderby.com/2009/tickets/buy and buy your general admission tickets right now with a Visa debit or credit card.  Tickets to the ‘Greatest Two Minutes in Sports’ are still a bargain at $40 while Kentucky Oaks tickets are only $25.  So if you and your friends want to have a blast Derby weekend, plan ahead and buy your tickets to the infield party now!”

As previously mentioned, Churchill Downs will again allow coolers into the infield on both Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days, a long-time tradition that was put on hold after Sept. 11, 2001, when Churchill Downs implemented more stringent security measures at the recommendation of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  This year, coolers will be allowed in the infield only and only through GATES 1 and 3. Cooler contents may include ice, non-alcoholic beverages (no glass containers permitted), and food items packaged in clear-plastic containers.  All coolers are subject to search by on-site security personnel.

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 conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009.  The track’s 2009 Spring Meet will take place from April 25 through July 5.  Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010.  Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

Churchill Downs 2009 Spring Meet Stakes Schedule Features 29 Events, $7.575 Million in Purses

Churchill Downs has unveiled a stakes schedule for its 2009 Spring Meet that is headed by the 135th renewals of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI), and includes a total of 29 stakes events with total purses of $7.575 million.

Three more Grade I events are included on the schedule for the 52-day session that will run from April 25-July 5. The $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and $300,000-added Humana Distaff, both scheduled on the Kentucky Derby program on Saturday, May 2, and the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap, which is set to head the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” racing program on Saturday, June 13, round out the five Grade I events on the schedule.

The 2009 Spring Meet stakes schedule includes 27 graded races. Along with its five Grade I races, the schedule features six Grade II events and 16 Grade III races. Two races on the schedule were granted higher graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee. The $100,000-added Derby Trial was restored to Grade III status for its 84th running on the meet’s opening day. The Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile will be a Grade II event for the first time when the one-mile turf race for fillies and mares ages three and up is renewed on Kentucky Derby Day.

Three races have new names: the $100,000-added Eight Belles (GIII), a Derby Day race formerly known as the La Troienne that now honors the ill-fated 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up; the $350,000-added Louisville Distaff, formerly the Louisville Breeders’ Cup, on May 1; and the $100,000-added Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) on April 30, formerly the Kentucky Breeders’ Cup. One race will be run at a new distance as the $100,000 Matt Winn on May 16 moves from six furlongs to seven furlongs. Two non-graded stakes races run in 2008 will go on hiatus this year. Those races are the Opening Verse Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, and the Mamzelle, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares ages 3 and up.

“Our Spring Meet stakes schedule offers something for horses in all age and gender divisions, and we continue our focus of high quality, big event days with multiple stakes surrounding the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap,” said Ben Huffman, Churchill Downs racing secretary. “Declines in wagering caused by economic conditions and unexpected limits on distribution of our simulcast signal in 2008 provided challenges as we put this schedule together. But we are satisfied with the finished product and look forward to working with our horsemen to continue to present compelling, high quality stakes events to fans of Churchill Downs racing throughout North America.”

The 2009 stakes schedule includes two days that feature six stakes races headed by Grade I events. The Stephen Foster Day program on June 15 has five stakes races, and the April 30 and May 30 programs each feature a pair of stakes races.

The Kentucky Derby Day program on Saturday, May 2 will again be the biggest day of the meet as the main event will be accompanied by five other stakes races – including two other Grade I events – and total stakes purses on the day of $3.35 million. Other Grade I events on the Derby Day card include the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and Humana Distaff, and the $250,000-added Churchill Downs Stakes (GII), Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII) and the Eight Belles round out the day’s stakes races. The Friday, May 1 program topped by the Kentucky Oaks also features six stakes races – five of them graded – and total purses for those events total of $1.35 million. The Kentucky Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race that is America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, is supported on the program by the Louisville Distaff, $150,000-added Crown Royal American Turf (GIII), $150,000-added Alysheba (GIII), $100,000-added Aegon Turf Sprint (GIII) and the $100,000-added Edgewood.

The Stephen Foster Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, tops the June 13 “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” program of five graded stakes races with total purses $1.55 million. Last year’s Stephen Foster featured a 1-2 finish by reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and Clark Handicap (GII) winner Einstein – two of the three finalists for the Eclipse Award that honors America’s top older horse. Other races on the “Super Saturday” program include the $200,000-added Jefferson Cup (GII), $150,000-added Northern Dancer (GIII), $300,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII), and $150,000-added Regret (GIII). The May 30 program will include the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) and $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII).

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 conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009. The track’s 2009 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 25-July 5. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record six times, and will host the international racing championship again on Nov. 5-6, 2010. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

Barbaro Memorial Unveiling Scheduled for Sunday, April 26

The public unveiling of a larger-than-life bronze statue to celebrate the life of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro will take place at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on the morning of Sunday, April 26. The announcement comes on the second anniversary of Barbaro’s passing on Jan. 29, 2007.

“Churchill Downs will provide additional details about the public unveiling as they become available, but we wanted to make certain that Barbaro’s worldwide legion of fans were made aware of the ceremony’s date,” said Churchill Downs General Manager Jim Gates. “Churchill Downs is proud to have been chosen as Barbaro’s final resting place and this outstanding memorial is certain to become a popular year-round gathering place for horse lovers throughout the world.”

The statue will become the focal point of Barbaro’s official memorial and burial site at Churchill Downs. It will be placed outside Churchill Downs’ Gate 1 and near the entrance to the Kentucky Derby Museum along with Barbaro’s ashes, which will be interred beneath the bronze. Currently, a bronze marker, featuring Barbaro’s likeness, marks the location of the future memorial site beneath a large magnolia tree.

The April 26 ceremony will take place at the memorial site before live racing begins that day. Churchill Downs’ 2009 Spring Meet opens Saturday, April 25, and the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is scheduled for Saturday, May 2.

“Gretchen and I are very much looking forward to the public ceremony this April,” said Roy Jackson, who bred, raised and raced Barbaro with his wife Gretchen. “We’re absolutely thrilled that Barbaro will be honored at Churchill Downs with a magnificent statue at the site of his greatest race.”

Production of the bronze statue is nearing its final stages with renowned equine sculptor Alexa King. Her design will showcase Barbaro and jockey Edgar Prado in mid-flight between strides nearing the finish line in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. The statue will be attached to a horizontal bronze rail that will support the 1,500-pound artwork, creating the impression that Barbaro and his rider are suspended in air. It is the first time that an equine statue of this size and scope has been presented in this manner, with all four of the horse’s feet off the ground.

Earlier this year, Gretchen Jackson said of the statue: “Roy and I want to portray Barbaro as we remember him best – a beautiful racehorse and an athlete.”

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 conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009. The track’s 2009 Spring Meet will take place from April 25 through July 5. Churchill Downs is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5 and 6, 2010. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

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