Record Derby Boosts Churchill Handle

Boosted by record wagering on the Kentucky Derby, total betting during Churchill Downs' 52-day spring meet surpassed the $500 million mark for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, declines in on-track attendance and wagering were offset by gains in off-track betting.

Including whole-card simulcasting at Churchill Downs and betting on Churchill's races at simulcast centers throughout North America, the track recorded total wagering of a record $553,179,503 during the meet that ran from April 27-July. The total reflects an increase of nearly 6% from the 2001 total of $522,397,791. Average daily handle of $10,638,067 represented an increase of nearly 6% over the 2001 average of $10,046,111.

The meet was highlighted by the record $123.2 wagered on Kentucky Derby Day, which was an increase of nearly 15% over the previous record $107,598,904 wagered in 2001.

Off-track wagering totaled $461,005,825 for a daily average of $8,865,497 per day; both figures were increases of more than 7% over the 2001 spring meet.

On-track wagering $92,173,678 represented a decline of less than 1% from last year's total of $92,891,507. Total attendance fell 4% to 677,876.

"We began this spring meet with concerns over new security procedures for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and an uncertain economy, but our final figures after 52 days of racing give us much to be encouraged about," said Alex Waldrop, president of Churchill Downs. "Total wagering continues to grow as fans throughout North America have proven again that they love the brand of racing offered by Churchill Downs. Our loyal fans in Kentucky and throughout the region braved rainy weather in May and above-normal heat in June and supported us strongly on their visits to the track, We appreciate the enthusiasm and support of our fans and the continued support by our horsemen, who have again allowed us to present the highest quality daily racing program in America."

Purse distribution during the meet totaled $22,751,753 and averaged $437,533, both representing 4% increases. There were an average 8.45 starters per race, down slightly from 2001 (8.71).

Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day won a record 32nd riding title at Churchill Downs as he rode 72 winners from 245 races for a winning percentage of 29.3 percent.

Dale Romans and Tom Amoss tied for the training title with 23 wins each, and Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey earned honors as leading owner for the third consecutive spring meet and a record fifth consecutive meet overall as they won 19 races.