Track Rules

Owners or trainers will be required to deposit jockey fees (except for those under contract) with the Horsemen’s Bookkeeper no later than one hour prior to the first race on the day of the race. Exceptions to this rule are to be by arrangement of credit in advance.

Monies deposited with the horsemen's bookkeeper for the purpose of claiming a horse must be in cash or a certified or cashier's check.

No entry will be received except upon the condition that all disputes, claims and objections arising out of the racing or with the respect to the interpretation of the conditions of any race shall be decided by the Officers of this Association or those whom they appoint, and their decision upon all points shall be final.


EVERY HORSE MUST BE SADDLED IN THE PADDOCK. This rule is imperative. Horses must be in the paddock at least TWENTY MINUTES before the scheduled post time.

The stewards reserve the right to substitute one jockey for another at their discretion. It will be their purpose to substitute a jockey of equal ability.

Front Shoe Policy: Dirt and Turf Courses

Front horse shoes which have toe grabs greater than 2 millimeters shall be prohibited for racing or training on the dirt or turf surface at Churchill Downs. This includes but is not limited to the following: toe grabs, bends, jar calks, stickers and any other traction device worn on the front shoes of thoroughbred horses.

Hind Horse Shoes (Dirt)

Any hind shoe with a turndown of more than one-quarter inch (1/4”) will not be allowed on the dirt course.

Front and Hind Shoes (Turf)

Front and Hind Shoes only Queen's Plate or Queen's Plate XT will be allowed on the Turf Course.


Horses are preferred by their available conditions in all allowance races beginning with Graded Stakes winners (Grade I-II-III), open stakes winners through their allowance conditions providing the horse has finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th for $40,000 or more since starting for less than $40,000. In allowance/optional claiming races a horse’s eligibility cannot exceed the condition of the race. Starter races for less than $25,000 will be considered as claiming races for condition eligibility.


If there are any scratches in a race with also-eligibles, the also-eligible horses will be permitted to move into the race in order of their preference.


In an effort to insure that racing fans will have an opportunity to wager on a reasonable number of horses, the following policies are in place concerning Turf entries.

Entries will be accepted in turf races (excluding stakes) for Dirt preferred horses. Trainers must declare the horse as Dirt Preferred at time of entry. A Dirt Preferred entry has no preference to draw into a turf race as a starter over a turf entry.

In over-filled turf races the also-eligible list shall be comprised of first, Turf Preferred entries and then dirt entries. If the race is removed from the turf, Dirt Preferred also-eligibles will have first preference to draw into the race in order of their date preference. If the race remains on the turf, Dirt Preferred horses will have no preference.

When a race is removed from the turf, Dirt Preferred horses will receive an R Date if they run or scratch. If the race remains on the turf, Dirt Preferred horses will retain their previous date.


All exercise riders, jockeys, trainers, outriders, pony persons and others on horseback will be required to wear a safety helmet which meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM 1163); UK Standard (EN- 1384 and PAS-015); or, Australian/New Zealand (AS/NZ 3838) while on or proceeding to/from the racetrack.


All exercise riders, jockeys, trainers, outriders, pony persons and others on horseback will be required to wear a safety vest designed to provide shock absorbing protection of at least a rating of 5, as defined by the British Equine Trade Association (BETA), while on or proceeding to/from the racetrack.


Other safety regulations that will be strictly enforced include prohibitions on smoking in the track’s barns and rules against the jogging of horses on the inner rail during training hours. The use of grills in the track’s barns will also be closely monitored.


All races scheduled to be run on the turf course may, in the event of a change in the condition of the course be transferred and run over the main track. All races transferred from the turf course to the main track will be run at the same distance, except that races at one mile and three-eighths will be contested at one mile and a quarter on the main track. Races run at one mile will be contested at one mile out of the chute on the main track. Ponies will not be allowed on the turf course.

Due to Limited Turf racing in September, there will be no turf workouts.


Pursuant to 810 KAR 1:110, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (the “KHRC”) is authorized to conduct “out of competition” testing on any horse that is eligible, or that may become eligible, to race in Kentucky. A horse is eligible to race in Kentucky if it is under the care, custody or control of a trainer licensed by the KHRC; or is owned by an owner licensed by the KHRC; or is nominated to a race at an association licensed by the KHRC; or has raced at an association licensed by the KHRC within the previous twelve calendar months; or is stabled on the grounds of an association or training center subject to the jurisdiction of the KHRC; or is nominated to participate in the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. The KHRC is authorized to test for blood doping agents, venoms and their derivatives, and growth hormones. The regulation also prohibits possession of the foregoing substances, as well as whole blood or packed red blood cells, on the grounds of an association or training facility subject to jurisdiction of the KHRC. A horse designated for testing must be made available for sampling at a mutually agreed upon location within six hours of notification that it has been designated for testing. If a horse is not made available for testing, or if there is any other failure to cooperate with the KHRC, the individual(s) responsible will be penalized to the full extent allowed by the regulation. If a horse tests positive for a prohibited substance, the owner and trainer are notified of the test results, and the horse is placed on the Veterinarian’s List pending a steward’s hearing. The owner and/or trainer have the right to split sample analysis, as set forth in 810 KAR 1:018/811 KAR 1:090. If the positive finding is confirmed, serious penalties shall be imposed, including but not limited to, the revocation of the violator’s license for a period of five to ten years. The regulation can be found in its entirety at:


subsections (7)A and (7)B
A horse which has not started in the past forty-five (45) days shall not be permitted to start unless it has at least one published work out within twenty (20) days of entry at a distance satisfactory to the stewards of the meeting. A horse starting for the first time shall not be permitted to start unless it has three (3) published work outs, one of which is from the starting gate, and one which is within twenty (20) days of entry.


All winning horses will be subjected to TOBA Supertesting for the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. Churchill Downs may participate in a program to freeze and store blood and urine samples so that retrospective testing may be done in the event that suspicious circumstances arise.


Any owner or trainer based at Churchill Downs who sells a horse for slaughter that was previously stabled at Churchill Downs will have his/ her stalls permanently revoked.


Although the use of a riding crop is not required, a jockey who uses a riding crop during a race shall do so only in a manner consistent with exerting his or her best efforts to win. In any race in which a jockey will ride without a riding crop, an announcement of the fact shall be made over the public address system. Rules regarding whip type are as follows:

  • All riding crops are subject to inspection and approval by the stewards and the clerk of the scales.
  • only riding crops meeting the specifications set out below, including the mandatory shock absorbing characteristics, shall be allowed in Thoroughbred racing including training.
  • Approved riding crops shall have a maximum weight of eight oz., maximum length, including flap, of thirty 30 inches, and a minimum diameter of the shaft of one- half (1/2) inch.
  • The only additional feature that may be attached to the riding crop is a flap, which shall fall within the specifications below:
    • A maximum length of flap from the end of the shaft of one half (1/2) inch
    • A maximum width of the flap one and six tenths (1.6) inches, with a minimum width of eight tenths (0.8) inch
    • The flap from the end of the shaft must not contain any reinforcements of additions;
    • There shall be no binding within seven (7) inches of the end of the flap;
    • The contact area of the shaft must be smooth, with no protrusion or raised surface, and covered by shock absorbing material throughout its circumference;
    • The flap must have similar shock absorbing characteristics to that of the contact area.
  • NO stingers or projections extending through the hole of a popper or any metal part on a whip shall be permitted.

Rules regarding whip usage are as follows:

  • An electrical or mechanical device or other expedient designed to increase or retard the speed of a horse, other than a riding crop approved by the stewards, shall not be possessed by anyone, or applied by anyone to a horse at any time, on the grounds of the association during a race meeting.
  • A riding crop shall only be used for safety, correction and encouragement.
  • A rider who uses a riding crop shall;
    • Show the horse the riding crop, give the horse a chance to respond before striking the horse;
    • Having used the riding crop, give the horse a chance to respond before using it again
    • Use the riding crop in rhythm with the horse’s stride
  • Prohibited use of the riding crop includes striking a horse
    • On the head, flanks or any other part of its body other than the shoulders or hind quarters except when necessary to control a horse
    • During the post parade or after the finish of the race except when necessary to control the horse
    • Excessively or brutally
    • In a manner which causes welts or breaks in the skin
    • When the horse is clearly out of the race or has obtained its maximum placing
    • Persistently even though the horse is showing no response under the riding crop
  • In no event shall a riding crop be used to strike another person.
  • After the race, a horse shall be subject to inspection by a racing official or veterinarian looking for cuts, welts or bruises in the skin. Any adverse findings shall be reported to the stewards.
  • The giving of instructions by any licensee that if obeyed would lead to a violation of this rule may result in disciplinary action also being taken against the licensee who gave such instructions.
Unapproved Advertising/Ambush Marketing

Unless previously approved in writing by Churchill Downs, the display of marketing or advertising materials anywhere within the Churchill Downs facility is prohibited. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, (i) the unauthorized display or use of signs, banners, mascots or other items with the names, logos, emblems, slogans, or trademarks of any company unaffiliated with Churchill Downs; (ii) providing promotional items for any company without Churchill Downs’ approval; (iii) any coordinated effort to promote any brand (including by way of clothing) while on Churchill Downs’ property; or (iv) any other attempt to suggest that a brand or company is affiliated with or endorsed by Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs may request the removal of the unauthorized marketing or advertising materials and may expel any person who violates this prohibition. Furthermore, Churchill Downs expressly reserves the right to pursue any legal remedies to the extent the unauthorized marketing activities violate Churchill Downs’ legal rights.

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