Churchill Downs Increases Purses by $3.1 Million

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, April 23, 2021

Churchill Downs has announced that purses will be raised by an additional $3.1 million thanks to robust business from the historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming. 

Opening Night for the 38-day Spring Meet is Saturday. The total purses offered in the first condition book for horsemen, which covers 190 races over 19 dates has grown to $22,822,100, with a daily average of $1,201,163. 

During Kentucky Derby week, maiden special weight races are now worth $115,000 and $100,000 after the Derby. Derby week allowance races will range from $118,000 to $125,000 and $102,000 to $109,000 after the Derby. 

The purses for 25 stakes races were also increased by $50,000 and includes:

  • $150,000 Audubon - 1 ? miles on the turf

  • $300,000 Fleur de Lis (G2) for fillies and mares - 1 ? miles

  • $300,000 Wise Dan (G2) for 4 year olds and up - 1 ? miles on turf

Fourteen stakes originally worth $125,000 were boosted $25,000 to $150,000 and eight overnight stakes races received $10,000 increases.

The 40-race Spring Meet stakes schedule purses now total $14.02 million.

The growth in purses has been attributed to the increased handle on the historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, located at 4520 Poplar Level Road. 

"Over the last 10 years, historical horse racing has allowed our equine industry to flourish, increasing purses and creating a more competitive racing circuit," said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson. "It has led to new jobs, economic growth and tourism. Despite the challenges of the last year, we have a bright future ahead - one of growth, innovation, new jobs and development. Recently we opened our $8 million Equine Medical Center and Quarantine Facility. This summer, we're investing $10 million to install a new turf course to improve the overall racing product. In northern Kentucky, our sister track Turfway Park saw handle grow 32.9% after we installed a new Tapeta surface, and recently we broke ground on a $145 million state-of-the-art Thoroughbred and historical horse racing venue. All of this will strengthen and bring innovation to our equine industry and ensure Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world."

The track has also announced that they are no longer going to build a trackside hotel. During a conference call April 22nd with analysts and investors, CEO Bill Carstanjen said the company has decided to not move forward with the previously announced hotel, even though construction had already begun. Churchill Downs Inc. decided there were better ways to spend the money and that the pandemic provided more time to analyze their planned $300 million investments. The investments will instead be focused on amenities for on-track visitors Derby week and beyond that will provide a higher rate of return on their capital over a shorter period of time. 


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