Kentucky Derby Draws Over 150,000 Despite Rain; Betting Total Second Best On Record
Saturday's Kentucky Derby saw a “popular victory” for Orb, owned by Stuart Janney and Ogden Mills Phipps, “before a crowd of 151,616" at Churchill Downs, according to Beth Harris of the AP. Trainer Shug McGaughey, a 62-year-old Lexington native, “finally got the Derby win he had long sought” in his second Derby start since ’89. The rain that “pelted the track earlier in the day had stopped by the time 19 horses paraded to the post” (AP, 5/4). The AP's Barrouquere & Lovan noted rain and extra security measures “slowed down morning crowds” entering Churchill Downs. But there were “thousands of poncho-covered racing fans" who were "unfazed" (AP, 5/4). DAILY RACING FORM’s Matt Hegarty reported total betting on the race was $130.5M, down 2.2% from last year's record total of $133.5M, but "still the second-highest figure of all time.” Twinspires.com and TVG, the two largest account-wagering companies in the U.S., “both reported problems in taking bets leading up to the Derby” (DRF.com, 5/4).
FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: In N.Y., Joe Drape wrote as the business of horse racing "continues its long decline,” Churchill Downs Inc. has “transformed itself into a full-blown gambling company with interests in casinos and Internet sites.” While financial analysts have “applauded the shift" while pointing to a 51% spike in CDI's stock value over the past five years, the horse racing world "feels abandoned" by the company. Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Michael Campbell said, “They don’t push horse racing anymore. They want casinos and technology, but they would not have access to either without horse racing.” Churchill Downs in ’05 owned seven racetracks that "between them hosted more than 650 days of live racing every year.” But now it has four tracks and "half as many days of live racing.” CDI officials said that the “pivot from horse racing was out of necessity.” But Drape wrote the company’s “bottom-line approach to its racetrack holdings and its hard-line negotiating positions have alienated horseman throughout the industry” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4).
PREAKNESS PEAK: Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas on Friday said that ticket sales for the May 18 Preakness Stakes are up 10% compared to a year ago, and that this year’s race "could see attendance rise for the fourth straight year and top the record" of 121,309 set in ’12. In Baltimore, Jeff Barker reported there are 25 tents "spoken for in the corporate tent village," with Under Armour, Toyota and Mitsubishi participating. Chuckas said that 50% of all tickets are sold "from the Monday after the Kentucky Derby until the Preakness” (Baltimore SUN, 5/4).
COMING UP ROSES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Pia Catton wrote Thursday's Taste of Derby event in its fourth year became “more comfortable and quite a notch tastier than in the past.” With a new location in the “massive Kentucky Exhibition Center, it was brighter and easier to navigate than the airport hangar of previous years” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/4). Meanwhile, in Louisville, Steve Jones noted Univ. of Louisville basketball players Mike Marra, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng “carried the Derby’s iconic garland of roses from the paddock to the winner’s circle” before the race (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/5).