Record Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week wagering and favorable results on daily racing programs at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) since the opening week of the Spring Meet have enabled the track to announce an immediate 10% increase in daily purses for overnight races.
Purses for qualifying races will increase starting with the eight-race “Twilight Thursday” racing program on Thursday, June 11. Eligible races include allowance races, maiden special weight events, starter allowance contests and claiming and maiden claiming races. Purses for stakes races will not be affected by the increase.
The increase in purses will cover the remaining 11 days of the 38-date Spring Meet, which will conclude with a “Downs After Dark” night racing program on Saturday, June 27.
Both the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) programs attracted record crowds and all-sources wagering. The Derby’s attendance reached a new high of 170,513 and the Kentucky Oaks record improved to 123,763. Attendance during the five-day period also was a record, up 5% to 365,006 from 348,530 in 2014 and up 1.5% over the previous record set in 2011.
All-sources wagering on the five racing days during Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week – from Opening Night, Saturday, April 25, through Derby Day, Saturday, May 2 – rose to a record $263.3 million, up 4% from 2014’s $253.8 million, and 2% over the record set in 2013.
Business levels on racing sessions have been solid since the track’s post-Derby Thursday-through-Sunday racing schedule resumed on Thursday, May 7.
"Churchill Downs and racing fans, both on-track and online, have enjoyed a very solid Spring Meet, and their enthusiasm has resulted in good news for our horsemen in the form of a 10% purse increase for the last three weeks of the meet,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We appreciate the strong participation of our horsemen, who have worked with us to present an attractive and entertaining daily racing product. And we offer our gratitude to patrons in our region and those who have wagered online and at racing outlets throughout North America for their ongoing support for Churchill Downs racing. We are looking to a strong finish for our Spring Meet, and trust this 10% purse increase will have a positive impact on both horsemen and fans.”