The 13-race live program Friday at Churchill Downs, anchored by the 145th running of the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, won by Serengeti Empress (Alternation), was witnessed by a crowd of 105,719 that accounted for record all-sources wagering on both the entire card and the Kentucky Oaks itself.
All-sources wagering on the full card totaled $60.2 million, an 8% increase over the previous record of $55.8 million which was set just last year. All-sources wagering on the Oaks reached $19.4 million, a rise of 10% over last year's then-record $17.5 million. Following a record-breaking Thursday ('Thurby') crowd of 48,212, Friday attendance was down 7% year-over-year, as early-morning rains kept the numbers down.
“Congratulations to the connections of Serengeti Empress and special thanks to all of the horse owners, trainers and jockeys who participated in today's races,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “Today's record handle shows that the Kentucky Oaks has established itself as one of the world's most popular events.
“Our guests were able to benefit from the most recent improvements to the facility including the new Starting Gate Suites Rooftop Lounge that added approximately 500 new seats. We also made several improvements to dining areas inside the facility and replaced nearly 25,000 seats in our outdoor grandstand and clubhouse sections that enhanced the guest experience. We look forward to [Saturday] for what we know will be a memorable 145th running of the Kentucky Derby,” Flanery added.