The price of betting the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), as well as all other races at Churchill Downs, is going up.
In what it calls an effort to maintain daily purses and its stakes schedule, as well as continue to attract quality horses, Churchill plans to increase its pari-mutuel takeout rates on win, place, and show wagers as well as exotic bets when the 2014 spring meet begins April 26.
The takeout, the percentage of the wagering pool retained by the track and split with horsemen—and also used to pay state taxes—will increase from 16% to 17.5% for win, place, and show wagers, and from 19% to 22% for exotic bets (exacta, trifecta, pick three, etc.) The remaining percentage of the pools is paid to bettors.
Track officials noted that Churchill has fallen under the $1.2 million threshold in terms of average daily on-track wagering during its live meets. Kentucky statute sets the maximum takeout rates for tracks under $1.2 million in average daily handle, and Churchill will put those rates in place. The rates are the same at Turfway Park and Ellis Park.
Churchill officials said they have informed the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission of the change as well as horsemen.
Vice president of racing communications John Asher said the change is being made to sustain the track's purses and spring meet stakes schedule. He said Churchill Downs is working to counter competitive pressures from casinos and from racetracks in the region—and beyond—with purses supplemented by gaming revenue.
Asher said without the takeout changes, purses for the spring meet would have declined, and some stakes may have been eliiminated.
Churchill noted that its efforts to support legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly to allow expanded gambling have failed.
"If Churchill Downs is to present a competitive racing product, purses must be strong enough to keep current stables in the state and attract new stables and horses to the Kentucky racing circuit," Asher said. "Our stakes program is also essential to attracting and retaining stables filled with quality horses.
"Without the change in takeout, our purses in the spring meet would have certainly declined, stakes purses would have been reduced, and some stakes races would have been dropped from the schedule."