Effective Nov. 17, Churchill Downs will raise overnight race purses 6.3% because of higher than expected all-sources wagering levels through the early stages of the 21-day fall meet.
Overnight purses will be increased 10%, but projected Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) award money will be reduced by 20% because of a shift in the wagering mix. The net result will be a 6.3% increase for the final 10 days of the meet.
Purses for overnight races—which include allowance, maiden special weight, claiming and maiden claiming events—will rise by an approximate blended average of $3,000 per race.
Total overnight purses for the meet are projected to be $6.4 million, up from the original forecast of $6.2 million. The daily average purse distribution (not including the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup World Championships programs) will be approximately $437,000 per day.
The KTDF is administered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and consists of money allocated to the fund through an excise tax imposed on all tracks conducting pari-mutuel wagering under the jurisdiction of the KHRC. The funds are intended to promote, enhance, improve and encourage development of thoroughbred breeding in Kentucky.
“There’s been a recent shift in the way purse money is being earned and the funds are being reallocated accordingly,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack. “While we’re delighted that our horsemen will be competing for larger-than-anticipated purses over the final 10 days of the fall meet, our purses remain well shy of their highest levels of recent years, and the pressure to compete against racetracks which have their purses fueled by slot machine and casino revenues continues to intensify.
“This 6.3% increase in overnight purses is good news because it stems from a stronger than anticipated wagering in the early stages of our boutique Fall Meet. However, these slight increases aren’t long-term solutions to the problems facing Kentucky’s signature industry; it merely eases the growing pressure on our horse industry as we wait for the Kentucky legislature to authorize slots at our state’s tracks, allow us to invest in Kentucky jobs and take on those out-of-state tracks that now possess a huge competitive advantage.”
Churchill Downs’ fall meet continues through Nov. 28.