Churchill Downs Incorporated Reports 2019 Second Quarter Results

LOUISVILLE, Ky., July 31, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Churchill Downs Incorporated ( CHDN ) (the “Company”) today reported business results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019. Second Quarter 2019 Highlights Net revenue of $477.4 million, up 26% over the prior year quarter Net income of $107.1 million, […]

Second Quarter 2019 Highlights

  • Net revenue of $477.4 million, up 26% over the prior year quarter
  • Net income of $107.1 million, up 4% over the prior year quarter
    º Adjusted net income of $115.0 million, up 9% over the prior year quarter
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $215.0 million, up 23% over the prior year quarter
  • Successful 145th running of The Kentucky Derby, contributing to record highs for wagering and Adjusted EBITDA
  • Continued sequential growth at Derby City Gaming in Louisville, Kentucky, with strong margin performance
  • Strong performance of our Gaming properties primarily due to the performance of Rivers Casino Des Plaines in Des Plaines, Illinois and Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pennsylvania
(in millions, except per share data) 2019 2018

churchill downs ky derby daySECOND QUARTER 2019 NET INCOME

The Company’s second quarter 2019 net income of $107.1 million was comprised of $108.3 million in net income from continuing operations and $1.2 million in net loss from discontinued operations. The prior year quarter net income of $103.1 million was comprised of $103.2 million in net income from continuing operations and $0.1 million in net loss from discontinued operations.

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Horse racing in Iowa doing well despite overall industry declines

Economic Impact Nearly $200M

University of Kentucky researcher Alison Davis conducted a study which shows the economic impact of horse racing on Iowa is nearly $197 million. “I was impressed with the overall impact. For a state like Iowa to have an economic impact of about 200 million dollars was pretty significant,” Davis says.

Davis says some of the economic impact may be under reported due to a lack of data. She says in the report that $143 million of the output was generated by the thoroughbred racing industry — with $29 million of that from the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona.

“To see how Pairie Meadows Casino and their parimutuel activity compared to the actual thoroughbred racing and their expenses, I said certainly indicated the importance of the equine component of horse racing and also the support of the casino,” Davis says. The report finds the industry supports 2,961 fulltime jobs. She says the horse industry is doing well in Iowa, but members of the industry need to be aware of the issues they face.

“Even though those are impressive numbers, horse racing as an industry is facing challenges, not just here, but in other places. But certainly we saw the numbers where horse farms were decreasing, number of horses (decreasing). To think about those types of challenges where it is because of alternative competition or changes in business model is something to think about. What might happen if it declines more?,” Davis says.


Group Seeks To Infuse Youth Into Aging Horse Racing Industry

young attractive British racegoer“Young people can bring new creative ideas to the sport,” said Jaime Roth, who runs her family’s LNJ Foxwoods stable. “Are there bad things? Yeah. But for the most part, it’s a great sport. We’re dependent on the future and young women are a big part of the future.”

Bussanich firmly believes “if we don’t get these young people into the sport, we’re not going to have horse racing.” A 2016 study noted the average horse racing fan is 63 , — younger only than golf — and decision makers, owners and trainers are still prominently older white men.

“We constantly sit around board room tables and say, ‘How are we going to get more young people involved in horse racing?’” owner and Thoroughbred Ideas Foundation president and CEO said Craig Bernick said. “I’m the youngest person around the table a lot of times and I’m 41.”

Nexus is full of people horse racing executives yearn to attract: Bussanich grew up in New Jersey and developed her affection for the sport from going to a track in Florida at age 6; Sutton fell in love when filly Rags to Riches won the 2007 Belmont and Nexus member relations director Mary Cage was hooked by Smarty Jones’ underdog story during the 2004 Triple Crown.

Horse racing is so often a passion passed down generationally. The Nexus co-founders are trying to break down what they see as a high …

Phenomenal Purses Scheduled for Churchill Downs’ 145th Spring Meet

$5,000 claimers running for $29,000.   Bottom allowance runners going for a $103,000 purse.  That’s the type of purses set for Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby week 2019.   Is horse racing dead?  Not in Kentucky.

Per the Churchill Downs’ press release:

Record prize money for horsemen will be distributed at Churchill Downs’ 145th Spring Meet thanks to early returns from state-of-the-art historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming.

The first condition book, which covers the first half of the 38-day Spring Meet, was released Wednesday, and purses for the 189 offered races total $20.1 million – an unprecedented 46% increase from last spring’s $13.7 million. The daily average is $1,056,842 compared to $722,579 in 2018, or $106,243 per race versus $72,640. All purses include prize money from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

Purses for all six days of racing on Derby Week (April 27-May 4) have been supercharged. In years past, only the purses on Oaks and Derby days were boosted. Maiden special weight races will be $100,000. Allowance races will range from $103,000 to $110,000. Total purses on Oaks Day will exceed $3.6 million, and Derby Day prize money will be worth a record $6.9 million.

After Derby Week, maiden special weight races will be worth $85,000 (up from $53,000 in 2018), and allowance races will range from $87,000 to $94,000 (up from $55,000 to $61,000 in 2018). The daily prize money post-Derby Week will average $525,308 compared to $356,769 in 2018, or $55,975 per race versus $38,016 a year ago.

In a change from last year, the winner’s share of the purse in all overnight races will be 56% (previously 60%) and 1.5% of the purse will be distributed to the sixth- through last-place finishers (previously 0.5%) to incentivize starts and reward owners who run their horses.

More than $30 million in total prize money – $12 million in stakes races and another $18 million in overnight races – is expected to be offered during this year’s Spring Meet. Last year, total purses paid during the 372-race Spring Meet was $22.2 million.

“This is such an exciting time to be a part of Kentucky racing,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “Our investment into Derby City Gaming, which opened just five months ago, continues to pay immediate dividends to Kentucky horsemen. We have reinforced our Derby Week festival concept, solidified our lucrative stakes program and tremendously strengthened our overnight racing product.We truly believe this growth and methodology will benefit all owners, trainers and jockeys that participate at Churchill Downs and make for an extremely exciting and competitive meet.”

With 75 total racing dates in 2019, Churchill Downs will offer more racing opportunities for horsemen than any other racetrack in Kentucky and increase its purses with more than an additional $10 million as a result of handle generated by Derby City Gaming’s initial year of operation. The $65 million facility opened in mid-September at nearby 4520 Poplar Level Road.

Earlier this year, Churchill Downs announced a record 34-race, $12.2 million Spring Meet stakes schedule that included a $1 million boost to the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) on Saturday, May 4, making it worth a guaranteed $3 million. Also among the 15 stakes races that received significant increases were the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), which was raised to $1.25 million, and the Old Forester Turf Classic (GI), which was doubled to $1 million.

Stall applications for the highly-anticipated Spring Meet, which will begin Saturday, April 27 and continue through Saturday, June 29, are due Friday, March 8. The stable area will reopen Tuesday, March 19 and the first scheduled day of training is Friday, March 22.

View the condition book online:

Tennessee Bill Aims to Resurrect Horse Racing Commission

Is Horse Racing Dead in TN?  Maybe Not Forever

Tennessee has a rich equine history, but the legislature banned horse race gambling in 1905.

According to The Tennessean, in 1987 lawmakers approved the Racing Control Act, which legalized pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and created the Tennessee State Racing Commission to oversee tracks. Several venues were proposed, but they either couldn’t survive local referendums or got knocked down in the courts by litigation, and none were built.

Without any tracks to license or regulate, the racing commission–which consisted of just one individual for a number of years–was disbanded in 1998. In 2015 lawmakers repealed the Racing Control Act. In 2016 they launched an advisory committee to try and bring a version of it back.

Horse racing in Tennessee currently consists of the non-profit Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, which runs a well-attended, one-day, non-betting meet at Percy Warner Park each May. Farther beneath the radar, non-sanctioned Quarter Horse match races exist at Carril de Memphis, an “outlaw” track west of Memphis that openly advertises its schedule of race dates on Facebook.

The money flowing across state lines to gambling venues in bordering Mississippi and Arkansas was cited as an impetus to resurrect horse racing in Tennessee.

“What I’m trying to do is reactivate the horse racing commission …

Learn About Horseplayer Marshall Gramm

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Ohio

Mahoning Valley Racecourse concluded its Fall Meet and 2018 calendar season and did so with yet another annual increase in wagering. Since its launch in 2014, the young racetrack in Austintown, Ohio, has seen handle increases each calendar year since opening its doors. All told, wagering volume on the Mahoning product for 2018 increased 10.6% compared to the prior year.

“We are extremely proud to announce yet another increase in handle and both the state of Ohio and Ohio horsemen should also take pride in this accomplishment,” said Vice President of Racing Mark Loewe. “It’s incredibly exciting to see our team, from Racing Secretary Ed Vomacka, his racing office crew, valets, gate crew, and all operate at such a high level year after year. It takes a team effort and we have one heck of a team.”

For the Fall Meet, jockey Luis M. Quinones captured his first riding title at Mahoning Valley, piloting 31 of his 189 mounts to the winner’s circle. Quinones also finished third nationally in 2018 with 281 wins.

“He’s such a hard worker,” said Quinones’ agent Billy Johnson. “He’s out there every morning working hard. He drives from track to track without complaint. I don’t know how he does it, but his work ethic and obvious talent make it a pleasure to work with him.”

While Quinones notched his first riding title, it was more business as usual in the trainer’s standings as Jeff Radosevich collected yet another training title. For the Ohio-based Radosevich, there’s little better than winning another training title on his longtime stomping grounds.

“I have great owners. Obviously, I couldn’t have done any of this without their continued and unwavering support. I love Ohio. Mahoning Valley gives me an opportunity to race year-round from my home. Thank you Mahoning Valley!”

Mahoning Valley held its signature event – the $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint – on November 19 and the marquee race of the meet didn’t disappoint as Trigger Warning won an epic stretch duel with Bobby’s Wicked One. Trained by Mike Rone, Trigger Warning was put on the lead early under Irwin Rosendo and then engaged in a fierce battle with the runner-up from the top of the stretch to the wire and was made the winner after Tyler Gaffalione’s claim of foul was not allowed. In the $75,000 Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff on the Steel Valley Sprint undercard, the gray mare Puntsville was able to hold off a late charge from Lake Ponchatrain to score her 13th victory in 25 career outings.

While she did not take part in any of the unrestricted stakes Mahoning offered during the Fall Meet, Leona’s Reward was tabbed the horse of the meet after dominating Ohio-breds in her three starts in restricted stakes events. Trained by Tim Hamm, Leona’s Reqard romped by eight-lengths over Ohio-bred fillies and mares in the Ohio Debutante Handicap on November 3 and followed that up with a win against the boys in the Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial two weeks later. In her final start of the meet, the daughter of Parents’ Reward returned to face fillies and mares in the Bobbie Bricker and again cruised to a seven-length score. All told, Leona’s Reward banked a total of $135,000 during the Fall Meet for her owners Blazing Meadows Farm LLC and Michael Friedman.

2018 Mahoning Valley Fall Jockey Standings (final)
Rank Jockey Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Luis M. Quinones 189 31 19 16
2 T. D. Houghton 163 25 24 17
3 Christian P. Pilares 122 24 15 22
4 Luis Raul Rivera 120 23 13 17
5 Luis H. Colon 60 22 7 9

2018 Mahoning Valley Fall Trainer Standings (final)
Rank Trainer Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Jeffrey A. Radosevich 108 30 14 4
2 Robert M. Gorham 99 21 15 11
3 Gary L. Johnson 86 17 9 8
4 Jay P. Bernardini 60 13 8 10
5 Rodney Faulkner 102 12 9 8

Source: Press Release

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not Yet in No. California

Golden Gate Fields concluded its 2018 Fall Meet in strong fashion on Sunday, Dec. 9, as the track posted a robust 19 percent year to year gain in all sources pari-mutuel handle over the course of 30 racing days. The positive increase mirrors results in all sources handle achieved at this year’s Summer and Winter/Spring Meets, and further underscores the positive changes taking place as Golden Gate Fields now looks forward to its 2018-19 Winter/Spring Meet opener on Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Increases in out of state wagering and off-track betting helped contribute to a total Fall Meet handle of $99.7 million, well above the $83.6 million wagered in 2017.

“We had another great meet,” said Golden Gate Fields Vice President and General Manager, David Duggan. “We, first and foremost, greatly appreciate the support of our loyal fans and horseplayers. Additionally, the horsemen have been working tirelessly as have our front-side staff.

“At the end of the day, it takes a great team to make a successful racing product and we have a great team here. We have improved our product in many ways this year and we look forward to continued progress in 2019.”

Jonathon Wong was the leading trainer for the third meet in a row, making 28 trips to the Winner’s Circle. Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer finished second in the trainer standings with 15 wins.

“I give the credit to all of my help, my owners, and the horses,” said Wong. “2018 was a great year for our team. My grooms, exercise riders and assistants work their tails off every day. The owners let me put the horses in the right spots and luckily, many of our horses performed well in the afternoon.”

William “Billy” Antongeorgi III topped the jockey standings with 36 victories, one more than Abel Cedillo. The accomplishment marks Antongeorgi’s first-ever riding title at Golden Gate Fields.

“Billy works so hard,” said jockey agent Fernando “Shoes” Navarro, who has represented Antongeorgi since 2015. “He has a great work ethic and great personality. He has that ‘it’ factor as a rider. I’m really happy for him. He wasn’t in the last race of the meet (on Sunday), so we watched it together and it was emotional when it was official and we had won the riding title. We hugged and congratulated one another.”

With the its upcoming Winter/Spring Meet running from Dec. 26 through June 9, Golden Gate Fields has announced an increase in maiden special weight and allowance race purses, while also bumping up bottom level claiming and maiden claiming purses to a minimum of $10,000.


Boom Time for California Horse Racing

Santa Anita Park’s 2018-19 Winter Meeting got off to a record-breaking start on Wednesday, as the track posted an all-sources pari-mutuel handle of $20,491,016, a 19 percent increase over a year ago and an all-time opening day record.

Wednesday’s opening day crowd of 41,373 contributed to an on-track handle of $3,463,535, a five percent increase over last year’s $3.3 million. On-track attendance was up year to year three percent.

In measuring the significance of Wednesday’s numbers, the last time Santa Anita opened on a Wednesday was 2012, when all-sources handle was $13.4 million, making yesterday’s handle of $20.4 million a whopping 52 percent increase. On track attendance on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 was 27,273, making yesterday’s 41,373 a 52 percent increase.

Winter Meet at Santa Anita Park to See Purse Increases

Santa Anita apron


With its traditional Winter Meet opener fast approaching on Wednesday, Dec. 26, Santa Anita Park has announced substantial purse increases for all of its overnight races, with some categories getting as much as an 11 percent boost when compared to purse levels at the track’s recently concluded Autumn Meet.

Santa Anita’s Winter Meet Condition Book One will be available to horsemen at on Tuesday, with hard copies available in the Racing Office this Wednesday, Dec. 5.

In addition to higher purses, horsemen will also find increased benefits for those running in races with purse levels of $30,000 or lower, as purse distribution in those races has been adjusted to better compensate horses that finish fourth and fifth. Percentage of purse distribution in those races, from first through fifth, will now be 55, 20, 12, 8 and 5.

“The overall increase in purse money is due to increased handle over the last year,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President, Racing for The Stronach Group. “We’ve adjusted the purses for the mid-level races in order to try to increase participation and field size, which drives handle. With these and other changes in place, we’re looking forward to a great Winter Meet starting the day after Christmas.”

Other changes, designed to increase field size, come in the first condition allowance category. Instead of being restricted to horses who are non-winners of $10,000 other than maiden, claiming or starter, horses will now be eligible if they’ve won $15,000 “other than.”

This adjustment has been made to entice more European and out of state horses to participate. Additionally, for the first time ever, horses that win first condition allowance races at Golden Gate Fields will now be exempted and be eligible to run again at the same non-winner’s level at Santa Anita, which will hopefully serve as an incentive to Bay Area horsemen to ship south for substantially more money.

For additional information regarding Santa Anita’s 2018-19 Winter Meet, please visit, or contact Santa Anita Racing Director Dan Eidson at (626) 574-6352.

Source: Press Release

2018 Fall Churchill Downs Meet a Success

The recently-concluded Fall Meet at Churchill Downs distributed record prize money for horsemen and delivered a great deal of substance for horseplayers as numerous memorable moments were produced during the historic Louisville racetrack’s action-packed, four-week stand.

The popular 21-day Fall Meet, which ran from Oct. 28 through Nov. 25, was spearheaded by a record-equaling ninth visit by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 2-3 that brought together the best horses, jockeys, trainers, owners and breeders from around the world.

When excluding the two-day Breeders’ Cup, a record daily average of $604,432 in purses was paid to horsemen over the 19 days, which was a lofty 20.9% increase from the $499,959 paid daily a year ago. Also, the average purse per race was $57,135, which was up 20.3% from 2017’s $47,507.

The significant growth in purses was attributed to early returns from state-of-the-art historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s new $65 million facility that opened in mid-September at nearby 4520 Poplar Level Road. For example, maiden special weight races were worth a record $76,000 and allowance races ranged from $78,500 to $90,000.

For some perspective, the average purse per Fall Meet race has grown 76.5% in a five-year period. At the 2013 Fall Meet, the average purse was $32,373 and average daily purses were $328,911.

“This was an incredibly strong Fall Meet,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “The hailed return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to Louisville on opening week after a seven-year hiatus helped set the tone for an outstanding season. Day in and day out, our horsemen, their owners and a robust jockey colony delivered an attractive and competitive racing product that appealed to bettors around the world. We express sincere gratitude to them for their continued support of our thriving racing program, and thank the horseplayers, guests and the greater Louisville community for backing our entertainment experience.”

Is Horse Racing Dead? No

During the 19 days, Churchill Downs staged 201 races, which lured 1,789 starters for a strong average of 8.9 horses per race – the same as the 2017 Fall Meet. The season’s racing product featured fields of seven or more in 89.6% of the races. There were only 21 races with six or less starters.

It was an extremely chilly Fall Meet as Louisville’s average temperature during the month of November hovered just above 43 degrees. As a result, only 23 of the 50 planned turf races went on as scheduled, and the going was less than “firm” for each race of the grass races (seven races listed as “good,” 11 listed as “yielding” and five listed as “soft”). A total of 47 scheduled turf races have been lost over 23 of the last 42 Fall Meet racing days just two years after none were transferred to the main track during the 2016 Fall Meet. This year’s surface transfers caused 99 “off the turf” scratches. Meanwhile, the main track had races listed as “muddy” or “sloppy” on five of the 21 days this year, including Breeders’ Cup Friday and “Stars of Tomorrow II.”

The 129th Fall Meet was anchored by the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which showcased 14 races and 13 Grade Is with purses and awards totaling a record $30 million. Much like its previous eight visits to Louisville, the prestigious two-day event delivered numerous dramatic and memorable moments.

Southern California-based 5-year-old Accelerate (22-10-5-5—$5,792,480), owned by Hronis Racing LLC, made a case for Horse of the Year honors with a one-length win over Gunnevera in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) for his fifth Grade I win of the year. The victory gave trainer John Sadler his first Breeders’ Cup triumph after going winless with his previous 43 starters. Joel Rosario rode the winner, and his mounts amassed an event-high $5,768,840 over the two Breeders’ Cup days after winning with four of his 13 mounts, including a trio of Breeders’ Cup conquests.

The megastar of Breeders’ Cup Saturday was Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s homebred 4-year-old filly Enable (GB) (11-10-0-0—$10,705,631), who became the first horse to win both the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI) and $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) with a thrilling three-quarters of a length win over Coolmore’s 3-year-old filly Magical (IRE). The victory down the middle of the Matt Winn Turf Course, her ninth win in a row, gave world-famous jockey Frankie Dettori his 14th Breeders’ Cup win and greatly-admired trainer John Gosden his fifth.

Two-year-olds Game Winner and Jaywalk emerged as the early favorites for next year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) after comfortable victories in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) and $2 million Tito’s Handmade Vodika Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), respectively, on the Breeders’ Cup’s inaugural “Future Stars Friday.”

Other Breeders’ Cup highlights included Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Monomoy Girl’s victory over elders in the $2 millionLongines Distaff (GI) to cement champion 3-year-old filly honors for locally-based jockey Florent Geroux and trainer Brad Cox; back-to-back Breeders’ Cup wins by Roy H (Sprint) and Stormy Liberal (Turf Sprint) both for trainer Peter Miller and the ownership of Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen; a fourth Grade I win of the year for Peter Brandt’s Sistercharlie (IRE) in the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf (GI); a dominant 2 ¾-length conquest by City of Light in the $1 million Dirt Mile (GI); and a stunning performance by utterly superiorNewspaperofrecord (IRE) in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf (GI).

Bulletin (Juvenile Turf Sprint); Expert Eye (GB) (Mile); Line of Duty (IRE) (Juvenile Turf); and Shamrock Rose (Filly & Mare Sprint) also won Breeders’ Cup races.

The two-day Breeders’ Cup attendance was 112,672 – the third highest in event history – and total betting reached more than $157.4 million, which was the fifth highest total since Breeders’ Cup adopted a two-day format in 2007.

In addition to the Breeders’ Cup, highpoints during the Fall Meet included Steve Landers’ 5-year-old Leofric, who turned back a determined challenge by 3-year-old Bravazo in deep stretch to win a thrilling renewal of the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) – the traditional “Black Friday” headliner on Nov. 23 and the most lucrative non-Breeders’ Cup race on the 30-race, $30.9 million stakes schedule.

Leofric capped a Fall Meet stakes treble for Cox, the 38-year-old Louisville native who also landed his 1,000-career win on Nov. 18 (although it occurred at Fair Grounds). In addition to stakes wins by Monomoy Girl and Leofric, the Cox-trained Mr. Misunderstood remained perfect in four stakes appearances over the Churchill Downs turf course when the 4-year-old gelding owned by Staton Flurry surged to the lead in late stretch to land the $100,000 River City Handicap (GIII) on Nov. 17.

Churchill Downs’ strong racing program for 2-year-olds was emphasized by impressive stakes performances on its two 14th annual “Stars of Tomorrow” programs, which are entirely devoted to 2-year-olds. Signalman, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) 22 days earlier, earned 10 points on the 35-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve” series when he turned back a late charge from Plus Que Parfait to win the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) by a neck on Nov. 24. Earlier that day, Liora – the longest shot in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies at odds of 27-1 – led every step of the way and narrowly repelled a late bid by odds-on 3-5 favorite and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) runner-up Restless Rider to win the $200,000 Golden Rod (GII) for fillies by a scant nose. Also that day, the Larry Jones-trained Super Steed, a son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, arose as a tantalizing prospect with an impressive first-level allowance win on the “Stars of Tomorrow” undercard.

Golden Rod winner Liora ended the season as the only horse to win multiple times at the Fall Meet.

Another 2-year-old that impressed onlookers during the meet was Improbable, who dominated rivals by 7 ¼ lengths in the $100,000 Street Sense on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard. Like Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Game Winner, Improbable is trained by Hall of Famer and five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert.

Game Winner was the clear 5-1 second choice in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager behind the pari-mutuel field of “All of 3-Year-Old Colts and Geldings” that closed as the 6-5 favorite. Improbable ended as the 17-1 fifth betting choice and Signalman closed at 30-1 in the field of 24 betting interests. Offered for the 21st consecutive year on Nov. 22-25, betting over the four days totaled $258,389 and was up 3.2% from last year. Also offered concurrently was the Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager in which “All Other Sires” (9-2) and Tapit (6-1) attracted the most attention in the betting pool that reached $32,924.

Other stakes winners during the Fall Meet were Divine Miss Grey in the $200,000 Chilukki (GII); Prado’s Sweet Ride in the $200,000 Falls City Handicap (GII); Princess Warrior in the $200,000 Mrs. Revere (GII); Rocketry in the $200,000 Marathon (GII); English Affair in the $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (GIII); Hot Springs in the $100,000 Commonwealth Turf (GIII); Dunph in the $300,000 Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes; Audible in the $200,000 Cherokee Run; Mother Mother in the $100,000 Rags to Riches Overnight Stakes; Uno Mas Modeloin the $100,000 Bet On Sunshine Overnight Stakes; and Vertical Oak in the $100,000 Dream Supreme Overnight Stakes.

The season champions were decided on closing day. Circuit-newcomer Tyler Gaffalione (118-21-15-8—$1,201,027), 24, won 10 races on closing week, including four on “Black Friday,” to narrowly edge 16-time local champion Corey Lanerie (126-20-21-20—$1,201,505) and Spring Meet leading rider Brian Hernandez Jr. (134-20-19-17—$2,002,802), 21 wins to 20, en route to his first title as Churchill Downs champion jockey. Edgar Morales (136-18-18-15—$831,412), who rode as an apprentice through Nov. 16, and Ricardo Santana Jr. (106-18-17-19—$1,432,475) tied for fourth with 18 wins each, one more than Florent Geroux (101-17-16-15—$2,705,991), who led all riders with five stakes wins.

Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen (72-11-14-10—$971,442) won with his final starter of the meet Sunday (Share the Upside in Race 11) to tie Dallas Stewart (40-11-7-3—$803,850) at 11 wins for his record-extending 20th Churchill Downs training title. For Stewart, it was his first local title and he did it with a considerably smaller operation than powerhouse Asmussen. Kenny McPeek (57-9-9-9—$1,164,663) was third with nine victories and was followed by Cox (52-8-12-7—$2,169,970), Tom Amoss (23-6-0-4—$328,664), Mike Maker (47-6-6-3—$436,451) and Ian Wilkes (54-6-4-5—$381,836).

Ron Paolucci’s Loooch Racing Stables (16-5-1-0—$182,123) emerged as the Fall Meet leading owner with five wins and one second from 16 starters and edged Gayle Benson’s G M B Racing (7-4-1-0—$251,180), G. Watts Humphrey Jr. (25-4-6-4—$317,276) and Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms Inc. (9-4-1-0—$3,444,251), who each had four trips to the Woodford Reserve Winner’s Circle.

A total of 147 horses were purchased through claiming races during the Fall Meet for a total of $2,638,500. For the year, a total of 428 horses were claimed during Churchill Downs’ three racing meets for a total of $8,483,000, which resulted in a $508,980 sales tax revenue for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The popular 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot delivered a significant payday for a customer on the penultimate day of the meet. The six-race sequence challenged bettors to select the winners of six consecutive races daily but the Jackpot pool, which grew to $317,738 throughout the meet, was only paid if there was a single winning ticket. That occurred Nov. 24 when the sequence went down for a whopping $500,256.88. The lucrative payoff occurred one day after a bettor was deprived of the jackpot when a rare double-disqualification transpired in the Nov. 23 finale, and one day before a worthwhile mandatory payout would have been paid to the most winners of six races.

In addition to the stellar racing, two additional events proved to be extremely popular with on-track guests: a special Halloween Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger on opening day that featured fun activities for children and a giveaway of more than a ton of candy, and Thanksgiving Day, a Louisville tradition at Churchill Downs since 1969 where more than 8,000 turkey dinners were served with all the trimmings, making it the largest number anywhere in the region.

Churchill Downs will conduct three racing meets in 2019 over 75 race dates. The 38-day Spring Meet will be staged from April 27-June 29 with the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) staged on Saturday, May 4. The 11-day September Meet is scheduled for Sept. 13-29, and the Fall Meet will run over 26 days from Oct. 27-Dec. 1.

When guests return for the 2019 Spring Meet, three capital improvement projects will be complete. Churchill Downs has invested $4.4 million to improve the infield guest entry experience for the 2019 Kentucky Derby and beyond through the construction of a new Infield Gate at the corner of 4th Street and Central Avenue. In addition, Churchill Downs will complete the colonnade wall from the Paddock Gate to the Clubhouse Gate in a $3.9 million project. Those projects are occurring concurrently with a $5 million capital investment that will expand the Starting Gate Suites through the construction of a new 20,000-square-foot rooftop garden which will deliver a unique hospitality experience with exclusive sightlines and access for more than 500 ticketed guests.

Source: Press Release