Churchill Betting Soars to Record Levels

Boosted by strong off-track simulcast wagering and stable on-track attendance and handle, total wagering on the spring meet at Churchill Downs rose 18% to an all-time high of $507,477,692. During the comparable meet in 1999, which was six days shorter, Churchill posted record handle of $430,583,390.

Interstate off-track wagering totaled a record $404,395,109, a 21% increase over the previous record of $334,913,648 established in 1999. On-track wagering totaled a record $103,082,583, surpassing the previous record of $100,258,241 during a 54-day meet in 1993. Total attendance for the spring meet was 744,665, also the highest total since 1993. Average daily on-track wagering of $1,944,954 represented a decrease of 4% from the spring of 1999. Average daily attendance fell 3% to 14,050. Also during the meet, on-track whole-card simulcast wagering rose 23% to total $12,438,952.

"Support from our local racing fans remained very strong in the face of ever increasing competition in our market and that is a reflection of both the high quality of racing and our ongoing commitment to improve service to our guests when they visit Churchill Downs," said track president Alex Waldrop. "The strength of our daily racing program continues to attract growing numbers of fans in satellite racing centers throughout North America and their participation has helped make this spring meet one of the greatest in our history."

With record purse distribution of $23,159,923, the daily average of $436,980 was the third highest total in track history. The average 8.59 starters per race represented a decline from the 8.92 starters per race average in 1999.

With 76 victories, Hall of Famer Pat Day was the meet's leading rider as he won his 28th meet title at Churchill. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Dale Romans tied for the meet title, with 10 wins each.