Churchill Downs

West Coast Stars Pioneer of the Nile, Chocolate Candy Arrive for Derby 135; Flat Out Still In Derby Picture

Two more contenders for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) joined the scene at Churchill Downs Thursday afternoon when the 1-2 finishers in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) – Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy – arrived at Churchill Downs

    Zayat Stables, LLC’s Pioneerof the Nile and the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Chocolate Candy arrived in Louisville following a flight from Southern California.  The two horses made the short journey form Louisville International Airport to Churchill Downs in separate vans and arrived at the home of the Kentucky Derby at approximately 12:30 p.m. (EDT).

    Pioneerof the Nile, who is bidding to give trainer Bob Baffert his fourth Kentucky Derby victory, is stabled in Barn 33.  Chocolate Candy, who is stabled in Barn 42, is trained by Northern California legend Jerry Hollendorfer, who is looking for his first victory in the “Run for the Roses.”

    The Santa Anita Derby victory for Pioneerof the Nile was his fourth straight stakes win and the son of 2003 Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker brings a career record of 5-0-1 in eight races and earnings of $1,234,200 to Churchill Downs.

    Chocolate Candy, a homebred son of Candy Ride and winner of the El Camino Real Derby (GIII), has a record of 4-2-1 in nine races and earnings of $532,500.

    Neither Baffert nor Hollendorfer accompanied their horses to Churchill Downs.  Baffert is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Friday and will be at the barn on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, trainer Charles “Scooter” Dickey said he still has Kentucky Derby hopes for Oxbow Racing’s Flat Out, winner of the $50,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park and sixth behind Papa Clem in last week’s Arkansas Derby.  The Florida-bred son of Flatter has a record of two wins in five races and total earnings of $87,700.

    Flat Out, who is stabled in Barn 48 for the Churchill Downs-based Dickey, galloped at Churchill Downs Thursday in his first trip to the track since the Arkansas Derby and his return to the Louisville track.

The colt missed valuable training time over the winter in Arkansas following a troubled fourth place finish behind Old Fashioned in the Southwest Stakes (GIII).  He suffered a bruised heel in that race and missed a scheduled start in the Rebel.  Flat Out raced in the Arkansas Derby off a break of almost two months.  Normally a stretch runner, Flat Out was second to pacesetter Old Fashioned with a half-mile to run in the Arkansas Derby and faded in the stretch to be beaten by 8 ¼ lengths.

    “He’s an awful good horse and he had a lot of bad luck when he got hurt in that other race,” Dickey said. “He’s just now coming back to himself.  He was just too fresh in the Arkansas Derby – he didn’t want to lay up that close.”  

    A lot of things would have to happen for Flat Out to make it in to a maximum field of 20 for the Derby.  The colt has graded stakes earnings of $32,500, which ranked 33rd on Churchill Downs’ latest list of graded stakes earnings by possible Derby starters.  The Kentucky Derby field is limited to 20 horses with preference based on total earnings in graded stakes races.

    “He’s doing fine now and we got that race in him down there,” Dickey said.  “We’re looking for better things.”

    Thursday’s arrival of the two West-Coast based Kentucky Derby contenders and the addition of Flat Out raised the roster of possible starters brings the number of Derby 135 horses on the grounds to 10.  Also in that group are Wood Memorial (GI) winner I Want Revenge; Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner General Quarters; Arkansas Derby (GII) winner Papa Clem; Illinois Derby (GII) winner Musket Man; Wood Memorial (GI) runner-up West Side Bernie; and the Dubai-based duo of Regal Ransom and Desert Party, the 1-2 finishers in the $2 million UAE Derby (GII).

Likely Oaks Favorite Rachel Alexandra Zips; 'Pioneer', Chocolate Candy Due To Arrive Early Thursday Afternoon

Trainer Hal Wiggins was looking for an easy work on Thursday for L & M Racing’s Rachel Alexandra, the likely favorite for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs on May.  But ‘easy’ is a relative term when it comes to describing the training activity of the star of Wiggins’ stable.

    Rachel Alexandra zipped five furlongs in :59.40 over a “fast” track with jockey Calvin Borel in the irons.  The move, which came just after the break for track maintenance, tied as the fastest of 21 at the distance.

    Churchill Downs clockers caught Rachel Alexandra in fractions of :12.60, :24.40,  :36 and :47.60.  She galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.60 and seven-eighths in 1:24.20.
    Despite the rapid time, Borel said the winner of the Fantasy (GII) and Fair Grounds Oaks (GI) completed her task with ease and without urging.

    “I’ve never asked her – it’s scary,” said Borel.  “I’ve been on her all the time and I’ve never asked her.  She’s just unbelievable, and she just gets better and better and better and better. I don’t know how good she can be.”

    “As usual, she went a little bit faster than I really wanted, but she does it so easy,” Wiggins said.  “The main thing we want to do now is just keep her fresh and keep her ready.”

    Wiggins said Rachel Alexandra would have “a little easy breeze” on Monday, April 27 and that would complete her serious preparation for the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies.  He said that work would likely be a four-furlong move.

    Rachel Alexandra is on a four-race winning streak, all in stakes races, and her recent romp in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park improved her record to six wins in nine races with earnings of $621,440.

    Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) with Street Sense in 2007, has been aboard Rachel Alexandra for that string of wins that started last fall in the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs.  He said she was good then, but is a much better filly now.

“I’d say she’s about 40 percent better, just because of the way she’s blossomed,” Borel said.  “Now she’s got so much power, it’s just unbelievable.  I don’t know how good she is, to tell you the truth.  She’s an awesome filly.”

Other Kentucky Oaks candidates on the grounds at Churchill Downs include Arnold Zetcher, LLC’s Gabby’s Golden Gal, who scored a 13-length victory for Baffert in the Sunland Park Oaks, and J. Paul Reddam’s Nan, fourth to champion Stardom Bound in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) for trainer Craig Dollase.

PIONEEROF THE NILE, CHOCOLATE CANDY ARRIVE THIS AFTERNOON FOR DERBY 135 –  The 1-2 finishers in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) – Zayat Stables’ Pioneerof the Nile and the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Chocolate Candy – are scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Thursday afternoon.

       The flight carrying the horses from Southern California is scheduled to touch down in Louisville at 11:50 a.m. (all times EDT).  Vans carrying the two horses should arrive at Churchill Downs sometime around 12:30 p.m.

    Pioneerof the Nile is trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, while Chocolate Candy is trained by Northern California training legend Jerry Hollendorfer.

    Barn 33, the regular home for Baffert’s horses at Churchill Downs, will be the destination for Pioneerof of the Nile, while Chocolate Candy and three Hollendorfer-trained stablemates will be stabled in Barn 42.

WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – New Orleans Handicap (GII) and 2008 Derby Trial winner Macho Again breezed four furlongs in :51.20. … Secret Gypsy, winner of the Distaff (GII) at Aqueduct breezed four furlongs in :48.40, the second fastest of 33 moves at the distance.  The Ronny Werner trainee is scheduled to run next in the Humana Distaff (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day. … Three-time Louisville Handicap (GIII) winner Silverfoot breezed a half-mile in :50 … Arlington-Washington Lassie (GIII) winner C.S. Silk breezed five furlongs in :59.80.

Return of Coolers To Infield Included in Hospitality, Security Polices for 135th Kentucky Derby, Oaks

For the first time since 2001, fans who enjoy Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days in the infield at historic Churchill Downs will be allowed to bring coolers into the track for the 2009 renewals of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Kentucky Oaks.  

    Coolers will be allowed in the Churchill Downs infield only on Kentucky Oaks Day, May 1, and Kentucky Derby Day, May 2.  Patrons may carry coolers into the track only through Gates 1 and 3, the traditional “infield gates,” and all coolers will be subject to search.  Alcoholic beverages and glass containers of any kind will not be allowed in those coolers.  Permitted contents include ice, non-alcoholic beverages in non-glass containers, and food packaged in clear plastic containers or bags.  The maximum size of those clear containers and plastic bags remains at 18” x 18”.

    Coolers were banned from Churchill Downs on the track’s biggest days when hospitality and security policies were thoroughly reviewed and revised following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and new policies were implemented for the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Oaks.  There have been tweaks to those policies since, but the lifting of the Kentucky Derby Weekend cooler ban is the most significant change since the new policies were established.

Churchill Downs works each year with nearly 40 law enforcement and government agencies to establish and enforce Kentucky Derby and Oaks hospitality and security policies and procedures.  The ban on coolers in the infield was lifted for 2009 with the approval of the track’s law enforcement partners, but most of the hospitality and security procedures established in 2002 remain in place for Derby and Oaks 135.

One other significant change for Infield patrons on Derby and Oaks Days is directly connected to the return of coolers: there will be no “General Store” located in the infield this year.  That store had provided racing fans with the opportunity to purchase Styrofoam coolers, ice, bread and sandwich items, and other infield necessities.  With the return of coolers, demand for those items for on-site purchase in an infield store would have been greatly reduced.

Churchill Downs will again station guest service and hospitality representatives at locations throughout the track to allow for quick response to questions or concerns posed by patrons on Kentucky Derby and Oaks Days.

“Our fans on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days quickly embraced significant changes in our hospitality and security policies in 2002.Their enthusiasm and patience – along with the incredible efforts of our law enforcement partners and government agencies that work with us each year – made these policies effective and allowed the Kentucky Derby and Oaks to continue to grow,” said Kevin Flanery, senior vice president of Churchill Downs Incorporated.  “We know that many will welcome the reintroduction of coolers and a return to a more ‘traditional’ infield experience.  The price of a general admission ticket to join the infield celebration of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks remains one of the most affordable ways to participate in any major American sports event. We trust that the reintroduction of coolers will convince even more families, college students and other fans within easy driving distance of Churchill Downs to spend a day in the infield on Kentucky Derby and Oaks Days.”

Infield admission to Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day is $25, and $40 on Derby Day.

Last year’s 134th renewal of the Kentucky Derby was witnessed by a crowd of
157,770, which was the second largest attendance figure in the history of the race.  Despite rainy weather, the 2009 Kentucky Oaks drew a crowd of 100,046.  

All patrons at Churchill Downs are subject to scans by magnetic wands before their entry to the track on those days.  

Items that may not be carried-in to Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days include:

  • Alcoholic beverages of any kind;
  • Glass bottles or containers;
  • Grills;
  •  Thermoses;
  •  Backpacks;
  • Luggage (includes briefcases);
  • Duffel bags;
  •  Wagons;
  • Umbrellas;
  •  Weapons, including knives.

Along with the infield-bound coolers, items permitted for carry-in to Churchill
Downs on Oaks and Derby Days include:
    

  • Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18”x 18” – no trash bags) – LIMIT TWO (2) PER PERSON;
  •  “Box” lunches if packaged in clear plastic bags or plastic containers  (maximum size 18” x 18” – no trash bags) – LIMIT TWO (2) PER PERSON;
  • Sunscreen (non-glass containers only);
  • Cellular telephones, cameras, and camcorders (patrons may be required to turn electronic items ‘on’ before entry is allowed);
  • Small personal music systems, radios and televisions – no “boom boxes”;
  • Binoculars;
  • Purses and baby bags (all subject to search);
  •  Strollers (only if carrying a child – no other items allowed);
  • Seat cushions (no backs);
  • Chairs (Gate 3 only);
  • Blankets (Gates 1 & 3 for infield use only);
  • Tarpaulins (Gates 1 & 3 for infield use only)

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.