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Safer Synthetic Tracks Slow to Catch on at U.S. Tracks

Each of the Triple Crown events—the Kentucky Derby, Maryland’s Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in New York—is run on a dirt track. Some in the horse racing industry want to end that tradition and lay down potentially-safer synthetic tracks. But with grandstands increasingly empty, critics say track owners are putting profits over safety. As part of our “Track Tech” series, WEKU’s Matt Laslo looks at the future of track material technology.

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“Track Tech” is a collaboration between WEKU, Louisville Public Media, and NPR’s Innovation Trail.

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Costly Care for Racehorses Must Be Weighed Against Profits

Arson Squad broke down during training and was sent to Rood and Riddle for a procedure that fused his fetlock (the joint above the hoof that acts as a shock absorber when a racehorse’s legs hit the ground).According to the New York Times, 3,600 race horses have died at the nation’s tracks over the last three years. Modern technology might have saved some of those animals, but, in an industry that must worry about the bottom line, healing a horse is often too expensive. As part of our “Track Tech” series, WEKU’s Leslie Guttman reports on the equine hospitals where life-saving care must be balanced against the bottom line.

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“Track Tech” is a collaboration between WEKU, Louisville Public Media, and NPR’s Innovation Trail.

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Fourteen To Run In 136th Preakness Stakes

The second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown will be run tomorrow at Baltimore’s Pimlico racetrack.

A field of 14 is entered in the Preakness Stakes. Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is the early favorite at 2-1. He’ll run from post position 11.

The second favorite, at 9-2, is Dialed In. The Nick Zito-trained horse drew post position 10.

Mucho Macho Man, who finished third in the Derby, has early odds of 6-1. He’ll run from post position nine.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro won’t run in the Preakness because of a heavy spring schedule but is expected to be entered in the Belmont Stakes.

Post time at Pimlico is approximately 6:15pm.

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Twelve Set To Run In Preakness

A field of 12 will run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver is the early Preakness favorite, with 5-2 odds and drew the number eight post position.

The second favorite, at 3-1 is Lookin’ at Lucky, which was the early Derby favorite but finished sixth after a slow start on the rail. The Bob Baffert-trained horse will run from post position seven.

The third favorite, Paddy O’Prado, at 9-2 will run from post position ten.

Jockey Calvin Borel believes Super Saver, trained by Todd Pletcher, is capable of becoming the first
thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed did it in 1978.

Post time for the Preakness is shortly after 6:00pm at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

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Churchill CEO Renews Call For Slots

The CEO of Churchill Downs, Incorporated says his company will continue to push for expanded gaming to benefit its tracks in Kentucky and Illinois.

Bob Evans told shareholders in a conference call Thursday that the financial gap between tracks that have casino-type gaming and those that only offer racing is growing.

“The solution for tracks without slot is to cut purses, to cut races and race days, or to cut all three,” Evans said.

Evans says such reductions are taking place at many tracks around the country. Churchill Downs has also shortened its race cards by one per day this week.

Recent expanded gaming bills have gained little traction in the Kentucky General Assembly.

Evans says Churchill Downs Incorporated’s revenues have been boosted by casino gaming at its New Orleans track and its online betting operation, but the company remains committed to strengthening its live racing product.

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CDI Releases 2nd Quarter Results

Churchill Downs, Incorporated officials say the company’s net earnings held steady during the second quarter of 2008.

Company CEO Bob Evans says net earnings from April through June were just over $29 million, about the same as the second quarter of 2007.

Revenues were up six percent over the previous year, which Evans says is good news given the state of the industry.

He says racetracks across the country are dealing with a drop in betting handle estimated at 3.7 percent.

“Things are tough in the U.S. thoroughbred racing industry and certainly we haven’t escaped that trend,”  Evans said during a Wednesday morning conference call.

Evans says a dispute with horsemen over revenues from advanced deposit wagering, or ADW, cost the company about $1 million during the second quarter.

Horsemen’s groups in Kentucky and Florida want Churchill Downs, Inc. to put a larger percentage of ADW revenue back into track purses and have blocked the simulcast signal of some races to wagering websites.