Churchill Gets OK for 20 Derby Betting Interests

The Kentucky Racing Commission on Monday approved a request by Churchill Downs to expand from 14 to 20 the number of single betting
interests for the Kentucky Derby, beginning in 2001. The change will
eliminate all entries and the mutuel field, and open up wagering on
runners 15 through 20.

Churchill president Alex Waldrop said that technological improvements at United Tote, Amtote, and Autotote, brought about by the introduction of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, made it possible to have the number of betting interests equal the number of starters in the Derby.

"All three tote companies learned how to expand those betting pools," Waldrop said. Churchill does have "one other hurdle" to clear, as far as displaying odds to its on-track patrons on the infield tote board, which presently has only 14 spots for displaying odds.

"We haven't decided on how to do that," Waldrop said. "It's a challenge to get information out." A possible solution might be to use two television screens to show the odds.

"I think this is an exciting proposition," Waldrop said. "It will increase, if possible, interest in the Derby."

In other business, commission chairman Frank Shoop appointed a committee to study how to regulate simulcasting. Commissioner Robert Stallings will chair thecommittee, on which Frank Jones and Wayne Carlisle will serve.

Dates for the 2001 racing season in Kentucky were approved, as follows: Turfway Park winter-spring meet, 68 days, from Jan. 1 through Apr. 5; fall meet, 23 days, from Sept. 5 through Oct. 5; and the holiday meet, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31. Ellis Park will have 41 days, from July 11 through Sept. 3. Keeneland's spring meet will go for 16 days, from Apr. 6-27, and its fall meet, for 16 days, from Oct. 6-27. Churchill Downs' spring meet will run 52 days, from Apr. 28 through July 8, and its fall meet for 24 days from Oct. 28 through Nov. 24. Kentucky Downs will race seven days from Sept. 15-25.