Churchill Downs Inc.

This Side Up: The One Thing to Envy Most at Ascot

It is as true to say that Americans and Europeans are united by an ocean as divided by one. And while horsemen are often considered insular, their transatlantic engagement--fluctuating but perennial--means that they always have things to learn from one another. In recent times, contrary to European prejudice, it is the Americans who have been more willing to leave their comfort zone. Whereas not even Coolmore have lately been rolling the dice on the dirt at the Breeders' Cup, American raiders have increasingly enriched the pageant of Royal Ascot. And...

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Churchill Employees Union Threatening Derby Day Strike

Local 541, the racetrack employees union that includes Churchill Downs valets, has threatened this week to strike over a wage and contract dispute. A press release sent on behalf of the group Friday said that, "With less than 24 hours until the 147th Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Incorporated failed to attend a meeting early this morning to, once and for all, finalize a contract with its valets and avoid major disruptions at the Derby. The governor and mediator were notified of the meeting last night; even still, the valets were...

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Under Glare of Probing Questions, Curious Answers in Kentucky

The Week in Review by T.D. Thornton In theory, state racing commissions are supposed to provide a layer of checks and balances by making both racetrack operators and horsemen accountable for their actions. In practice though, that often doesn't happen because regulators in many jurisdictions fail to ask probing questions of licensees during open, public meetings. In Kentucky, for example, if you want the most concise on-the-record snapshot of what's going on with the circuit, the best source generally isn't a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) meeting. Instead, the proceedings...

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PETA Files Resolution with Churchill Downs

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has been buying stock in racetrack companies this year and earlier had purchased stock in Churchill Downs, submitted a resolution calling on Churchill Downs, Inc., to report to shareholders on the feasibility of replacing the Churchill main track with a synthetic surface. The Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database, which compiles statistics regarding racing fatalities, indicates fewer horses sustain fatal catastrophic injuries on synthetic surfaces than on dirt tracks. The incidence of fatality per 1,000 starts for dirt in 2019 was 1.6...

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Turfway Construction Halted Until KY Clears Up Historical Racing Ambiguity

Turfway Park's new grandstand and historical racing machine (HRM) facility won't get built until the state of Kentucky clears up the ambiguity surrounding the apparent illegality of that form of video gambling, which contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to purses in the state. That news was delivered by Bill Carstanjen, chief executive officer of Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), in an Oct. 29 third-quarter earnings call with investors. CDI, a gaming corporation with six Thoroughbred tracks in its portfolio, acquired Turfway last year and soon thereafter embarked upon a...

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Illinois Grants 2021 Dates Amid Distrust for Arlington's Corporate Ownership

Citing distrust in Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), the gaming corporation that owns Arlington International Racecourse, the leadership of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) on Sept. 16 asked the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) to impose a condition on 2021 race dates that would withhold millions of dollars in purse fund "recapture" money from the track if it did not end up racing its applied-for 68 days next year. The IRB, which was meeting with three newly appointed commissioners for the first time on Wednesday, probed Arlington president Tony Petrillo about...

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Arlington Contract Finally Inked, New Controversy Erupts Over Hawthorne Stabling

The long-overdue contract between Arlington International Race Course and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) was inked just minutes before a 9 a.m. Monday Illinois Racing Board (IRB) meeting, enabling racing commissioners to finally approve a 30-date summer season at the suburban Chicago track that will run July 23 through Sep. 26. Racing will be conducted Thursdays through Saturdays, with no open stakes races in 2020, including the track's signature event, the GI Arlington Million. TDN requested purse level specifics from ITHA representatives, but received no response prior to deadline...

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Amid Pandemic, CDI Reports TwinSpires Growth

Predictably, Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), on Wednesday reported 2020 first-quarter revenue drops because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down racing and gaming throughout the nation since mid-March. But CDI noted within those results that it experienced "strong performance" from its TwinSpires advance-deposit wagering platform, with handle growth of 8.3% over the prior year's quarter. "For the first quarter of 2020, net revenue increased $4.3 million from the prior year quarter primarily due to a $3.7 million increase at TwinSpires," CDI reported in its Apr. 29 United States Securities...

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Two COVID-19 Positives at Turfway; Churchill Reopening Remains Up in the Air

A pair of workers at Turfway Park--one backstretch worker and one track employee--have tested positive for coronavirus in recent weeks, according to a report first published by Blood-Horse. Turfway's parent company Churchill Downs ended the Turfway meet--which had been being conducted without spectators--three days earlier than scheduled last month, citing Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear's "Healthy at Home" executive order. Churchill Downs, Inc. spokesperson Tonya Abeln confirmed to the TDN Wednesday that the ill backstretch worker was symptomatic more than two weeks ago and was subsequently hospitalized and tested positive for...

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Turfway Park the Latest Coronavirus Closure

Churchill Downs announced the closure of Turfway Park Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic, citing the "Healthy at Home" Executive Order 2020-257 issued by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. With the Turfway racing season scheduled to run through Saturday, March 28, the remainder of the meet has been cancelled. Turfway Park's backside will remain open for training because it falls under the "life-sustaining business" category as it provides "food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals."

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Churchill Downs to Invest $5.6M in New Tapeta Synthetic Track at Turfway

Churchill Downs Incorporated plans to invest $5.6 million to replace the existing track at Turfway Park with a new Tapeta synthetic track through an agreement with Tapeta Footings, Inc., CDI announced Tuesday. The removal of Turfway's existing Polytrack and installation of the new Tapeta synthetic track will take place immediately following the close of Turfway's Winter/Spring Meet Mar. 28 and is expected to be ready for the 2020 Holiday Meet beginning Dec. 2. CDI owns and operates three of the four synthetic tracks in the United States and Turfway will...

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No Offers in Pipeline to Buy Arlington; No Budge in Contract Stalemate

Purse contract negotiations between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) and Arlington Park remain deadlocked three weeks after missing a state-mandated deadline to have one in place for the 2020 meet. Despite the issue taking center stage with 90 minutes of testy back-and-forth debate at Tuesday's Illinois Racing Board (IRB) meeting, the two sides appear no closer to bridging the gap, which chiefly hinges on a daily average purse figure of $130,000 versus $200,000 for the 68-date, May-through-September meet. IRB chairman Jeffrey Brincat did underscore on Tuesday that the horsemen...

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