Given record wagering during the opening week of its spring meet, Churchill Downs June 9 announced a 10% hike in overnight purses for the remaining 11 programs of the meeting.
Based on the announcement, effective June 11, the purse for a maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds or older will go for $55,000, up from $50,000. The purse for maiden allowances races for 2-year-olds, currently $44,000, will increase to $48,400.
As reported earlier, all-sources pari-mutuel handle from April 25 through May 2, the day of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), was a record $263.3 million, up 4% from the previous year. Churchill Downs Inc. at the time said the Derby day program alone generated $10.7 million for purses that would be paid out during 2015 race meets.
According to figures provided by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, total wagering on live races at Churchill from April 25-May 31 totaled $324.05 million, up 4.49% from $310.11 million for the same period in 2014. There were 23 programs so far this year versus 21 last year.
Not counting the programs associated with Derby week, Churchill has handled about $61 million over 17 programs for an average of about $3.58 million. Churchill in a release said its post-Derby wagering figures have been solid.
"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," Churchill president Kevin Flanery said. "We appreciate the strong participation of our horsemen, who have worked with us to present an attractive and entertaining daily racing product."
Field size for the first 23 days of the meet has averaged 7.80 horses per race, up from 7.25 for the same period last year, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. About $15.57 million in purses have been paid so far versus $13.81 million for two fewer programs in 2014.