Kentucky Derby Draws Its Second-Largest Crowd; New Video Board Proves Popular
Saturday's Kentucky Derby drew 164,906 spectators to Churchill Downs to watch California Chrome's victory, the second-highest attendance in the event's history. On-track wagering on the Derby race totaled $11.9M, an increase of 4% from the '13 total. On-track wagering on the Derby program of $23.4M was an 11% increase from '13. Wagering from all sources on the Kentucky Derby race card totaled $186.6M, an increase of 1% over the '13 total of $184.6M and tying the all-time record set in '12. All-sources wagering on the Kentucky Derby race declined 1% to $129.2M (CDI). BLOODHORSE's Tom LaMarra reported Kentucky Oaks program on Friday "attracted 113,071, the third-highest for the event." All-sources wagering on the 12-race Oaks program "was down 5.67%" to $43.2M. On-track handle on the Oaks card "decreased 3.27%" to $11.8M this year. Total handle on the Oaks alone was $14.1M, "down 2.12%" from '13. The six-day Derby week total handle of $253.8M "dropped almost 2%" from $258.5M last year (BLOODHORSE.com, 5/4).
LARGER THAN LIFE: The AP's Schreiner & Lovan wrote the track's new "gigantic video board" gave the crowd a "living-room view" of the races. The track's "newest landmark" gave fans "the feeling of being up close to the colts." The view was "especially sweet for the throngs of infield fans." Some of them in past years "routinely left without seeing a horse." The infield lawn in front of the giant TV was "a popular spot, with flocks of fans staking out spots hours before" the Derby (AP, 5/3). AD AGE's Seth Fineberg wrote Panasonic used the screen to "prove to potential business customers attending and watching the Kentucky Derby that it's a worthy technology partner." Anyone attending major sporting events has "been exposed to a massive Panasonic screen, but the problem" the company has had is "few know they're involved." As such, Panasonic, with the help of Havas Media, "partnered with NBC and Churchill Downs to explain the company's involvement with 'the most watched two minutes in sports.'" Panasonic CMO Betty Noonan said the video screens are "just eye candy" for the company and its b-to-b goals (ADAGE.com, 5/3). CDI CEO Bob Evans said the two days around the Kentucky Derby is "roughly a third of our overall company's performance." Evans said of the new $12M videoboard, “We wanted to do something to help the folks in the infield. There are tens of thousands of people who are in the infield and usually they've gone home from the Derbys in the past without ever actually seeing a horse” ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 5/2).
CALIFORNIA DREAMING: The AP's Beth Harris wrote California Chrome's victory was one "for the little guys" in a sport usually "dominated by wealthy owners and regally bred horses from Kentucky's bluegrass country." Owners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn "bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion to produce the winner of the world's most famous race with their one-horse stable." Martin and Coburn "named their operation DAP Racing, which stands for Dumb Ass Partners." Their silks "include an image of a donkey," and their partnership is "based on a handshake" (AP, 5/3). In N.Y., Joe Drape wrote Coburn and Martin two months ago were offered by one of the sport's "far wealthier owners" $6M for 51% of California Chrome, the "first horse they had bred." However, the offer "just did not sit well," as it had "come from someone who, as the cowboy-hat-wearing Coburn put it, 'never put on a pair of boots' to go to work and thought he could buy someone else’s hard work." It "did not take them long to decide: The answer was an emphatic no" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4).