Innovative Wager Approved for Churchill

Churchill Downs will expand its Super High 5 Wager and link it with other tracks.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved an innovative new wager between Churchill Downs and racetracks in other states.

During its regular meeting Sept. 22, the KHRC approved a request from Churchill Downs for a Super High 5 wager during the Louisville track’s upcoming fall meet. The Super High 5 requires correcting selecting the first five finishers in a specific race on the card. Such exotic wagers have become commonplace in recent years at tracks all over the country.

The unique aspect of the Churchill Super High 5 wager is that if there are no winning tickets on the wager in the one race at Churchill, there would be a carryover pool. The amount in the carryover pool would be merged with a Super High 5 race the following day at an out-of-state track owned by Churchill Downs Inc. In the case of the fall meet, the other track involved would be Calder Race Course.

Jim Gates, Churchill Downs general manager, explained that the Super High 5 wager would likely be the fifth race of the day at Calder and would be near the end of the race card at Churchill Downs.

The carryover pool from the Calder race, after the prevailing takeout rate of 27%, would be added to the Churchill Super High 5 pool for which there is a 19% takeout. If the wager was not correctly hit, it would revert back to Calder for the following day’s card.

If the carryover wager is successful during the fall meet, Gates said Churchill would ask for approval to conduct it again in the spring, with CDI-owned Arlington Park in Illinois being added to the mix, along with Calder. Conceivably, on the same day there could be carryover pools between three tracks in three different states. He said regulatory bodies in both Florida and Illinois have approved the wager.

Gates said Churchill would only offer the carryover pool between tracks that are shown through the CDI simulcast network, meaning that Churchill bettors would be able to participate in the Super High 5 at the out-of-state track by placing simulcast wagers.

Also during the meeting, the KHRC approved new rules for use of the whip in Standardbred racing in the state. Under the change, harness drivers must hold one rein in each hand, and use the whip with one of those hands. Previously, drivers were allowed to hold both lines in one hand and use the whip in the other. The KHRC also banned whips with a snapper – a strand of material on the tip that can cause welts.

Bill Napier, executive secretary of the Kentucky Harness Horsemen's Association, said his organization unanimously approved the new rule as a way of bringing positive change to the industry. “We believe it will reduce the appearance of abuse and, in some cases, curtail abuse,” Napier said.

In a statement, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said he supports the rules changes. “Once again, the KHRC has moved forcefully to enhance the safety of horse racing,” the governor said. “I am proud that Kentucky is at the forefront of states acting on behalf of the humane treatment of trotters and pacers.”

It was also announced that Beshear had reappointed two members and named new members to the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council.

Reappointed were Dr. Jerry L. Yon, a Lexington hysician who represents the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and chairs the council, and trainer and horse owner Rick Hiles, of Louisville, who represetn

--Hollie I. Swanson, of Lexington, is a professor at the University of Kentucky. She represents pharmacologists. The appointment replaces Gary A. Lavin, whose term has expired.

--W.B. Rogers Beasley, of Lexington, is the director of racing for the Keeneland Association. He represents licensed racing associations. The appointment replaces John Thomas Ward Jr., whose term has expired.

--Frank Dwayne Marcum, of Versailles, is a veterinarian in private practice and president of ArthroDynamic Technologies, Inc. He represents veterinarians. The appointment replaces Fairfield Tucker Bain, whose term has expired.

--Andrew M. Roberts, of Lexington, is a veterinarian in private practice. He represents Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association. The appointment replaces William E. Napier, whose term has expired.

--John A. Cashman, of Lexington, is the retired president of Castleton Farms. He represents the harness racing industry. The appointment replaces Alan J. Leavitt, whose term has expired.

--A. Gary Lavin, of Goshen, is a veterinarian in private practice. He represents thoroughbred breeders. The appointment replaces Alice H. Chandler, whose term has expired.