Anne M. Eberhardt

Churchill Downs Hikes Purses Another 15%

Churchill Downs has again increased purses, this time by 15%.

Churchill Downs has raised purses for its spring meet again, this time by 15% effective June 16. A 10% purse hike was announced June 3 at the Kentucky racetrack, whose meet continues through July 4.

“Horse racing fans have responded positively to our racing product this season, and wagering levels over the last two weeks in particular greatly exceeded our projections,” Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said in a June 16 statement.

Purses for the final 128 overnight races will rise by an approximate blended average of $5,126 per race, Churchill officials said. Total overnight purses offered for the meet are projected to be $13.3 million, up $1.2 million from the original forecast of $12.1 million.

The daily average purse distribution, not including stakes, will be approximately $340,547 per day, and the number grows to $501,242 when stakes money is included. The 10% increase announced June 3 was attributed to strong all-sources wagering the week of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

As has been Churchill’s recent policy, officials again noted the purse increases don’t address ongoing issues in Kentucky racing.

“The Commonwealth’s signature horse racing industry still isn’t on a level playing field with states whose racetracks have an immense competitive advantage by having their purses fueled by slot machine and casino revenue, and our purses remain well shy of their highest levels of recent years,” Flanery said.