SBD/June 15, 2012/Events and Attractions

Churchill Downs Considers Dropping $50 Kentucky Derby Ticket Fee

The fee was designed to help get tickets into the hands of fans rather than ticket brokers
Churchill Downs Inc. Chair & CEO Bob Evans on Thursday said that the track “likely will drop the $50 nonrefundable fee that people seeking Kentucky Derby tickets had to pay for this year’s race,” according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Churchill Downs officials at the time the fee was announced last year said that “the ticket request procedure for Derby and Oaks tickets through its online box office would help get tickets in the hands of fans rather than ticket brokers.” But fans “criticized the administrative fee that marked the first time in Derby history that ticket applicants had to pay even if they were turned down.” Evans said that he “had heard the concerns of angry fans, and that the fee likely would be dropped.” Evans: “We haven’t finished up the plan for the 2013 Derby yet. I just don’t know, but the answer’s probably yes” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/15).

SEEKING FEEDBACK: In Louisville, Jennie Rees notes CDI President Kevin Flanery formally announced plans for a new series, the “Road to the Derby,” on Thursday and “reaction was varied as horsemen began learning the details.” The series will “encompass 36 races, almost all of which are historically prominent Derby prep races, and have a tiered point system where points increase in value as the prep distances stretch out and get closer to the Derby.” Flanery said that they “want feedback from tracks and suggestions how to improve the system going forward.” Trainer Bob Baffert was “among those expressing chagrin that horsemen were not consulted.” Baffert said that there “should be a minimum purse to be a qualifying race and expressed concern that tracks would whack a stakes purse once its Derby points were set.” Trainer Todd Pletcher also said that he “didn’t think there was a need to change the existing system.” His main objection is that “he believes fillies and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner are not treated fairly” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/15).

NOT BIG FANS:Trainer Chip Woolley said, "I think it's a bad deal. I sure don't agree with it. To me, this is not a fair way of doing it." Trainer Graham Motion said, "I hope they are doing the right thing. I am a little concerned" (Albany TIMES UNION, 6/15). The DAILY RACING FORM’s Marty McGee noted trainer Steve Asmussen was “adamant in his opinion that the new rules are overwrought and unnecessary.” Asmussen said, “This isn’t some subjective sport like figure skating where you don’t know who the French judge is. The Derby is the only thing in racing that seems to be working, so why have they tinkered with it?” (DRF.com, 6/14).
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