Little Changes Add Up More Than You Think

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 29, 2009 in Kentucky Derby, News | No Comments >>

In the times of woe and want, tracks of every size are making changes. Some are for the good, some for financial reasons, and some that make you scratch your head. In times when the discretionary dollar is being fought over, it’s even more necessary to advertise and promote the sport. When you start seeing less and less of the game, the public will think about where their dollars are going to be spent. Take away the advertisement, and people will not get excited about the event.

ESPN, which already is not showing the Kentucky Oaks this year, has decided not to televise the Kentucky Derby post-position selection event.

As a result, Churchill Downs is changing the Derby Week event’s time from the evening of April 29th to noon that day. Also, it will be moved from Fourth Street Live to Marquee Village at Churchill Downs.

Because nomination forms were already printed, Churchill will keep its current two-step selection process, at least this year, track spokesman Darren Rogers said yesterday.

The current made-for-TV format is a standard draw that determines the order in which the horses’ representatives then select post position. That format was put in place by former track president Tom Meeker in the late 1990s to add an element of strategy to the time-honored luck of the draw.

HRTV and most local TV stations will show the selection live, Rogers said.

He said the entire process, which is open to the media, “shouldn’t last much longer than a total of a half an hour.” There won’t be breaks for television or trainer interviews, as there were on ESPN.

Asked if the track might go back to a conventional draw next year, Rogers said, “I would imagine it would be dependent on any contracts signed in the future.”