UPDATE: Churchill Downs Proposing Changes Amid Lower Handle

by ekramer on May 11, 2009

Fewer horses are coming to race at Churchill Downs and that has officials considering changes. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Last week, one race was cancelled during each of the four days of racing at Churchill Downs because too few horses were entered to race. Horse industry officials say the reason is purses at Churchill Downs are not competitive with other tracks — primarily those subsidized in states that have expanded gambling.

Track spokesman Kevin Flanery.

“Horses [or horse owners] who maybe would compete at Churchill Downs are now saying, ‘I can run for a purse that’s similar or maybe slightly less and have a better chance of winning at a track in Indiana or West Virginia or Pennsylvania’ — all of which have slots-fed purses,” Fanery says.

Churchill will ask the state racing commission for permission to reduce the current meet by seven race days. The track also plans to cut purses in six graded stakes races.

Flanery says the situation isn’t due to a lack of local support.

“The Louisville community really showed up for Oaks and Derby week,” he says. “But this is about the national market. This is about our ability to compete for the national wagering dollar in the simulcast markets.”

Track officials have been meeting with the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association before Tuesday’s meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

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