Primetime Derby

I’ve always enjoyed Derby day. – The entire undercard is chock full of value and the day culminates with the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”  Most would say don’t fix something if it ain’t broke, and far be it from me to do anything as such. But there is the inner-horse player that speaks to me. – After reading the Downey Profile and Paulick Report, the racing voice in my heart has to wonder if it could grow beyond our wildest dreams.

Maybe a small tweak here and there could make a significant difference. – We’re not going to change the distance or bring in the hurdles. Just a few small tweaks that may move the bottom line in a big way.

According to the wagering and handle reports it was a pretty good day in Louisville. Here is a glimpse from the Downey Profile:

Kentucky Derby fans weathered rainstorms and unseasonal cold. Announced attendance was 158,070, the seventh highest attendance figure in track history. Wagering from all-sources was the highest all-time on both the Kentucky Derby Day program and on the Kentucky Derby race. Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $209.2 million, a 9% increase over the 2016 total of $192.6 million, and an increase of 8% over the previous record set in 2015 of $194.3 millionWagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby race increased 12% to $139.2 million from 2016’s $124.7 million and a 1% increase over the previous record set in 2015 of $137.9 million.

Not bad shooting for a sport that has been given a standing eight-count many times over the years. – I work at a daytime track and there are a bevy of others that run during the day as well. – How about sitting down and taking a deep breath ? – What would you think of having EST tracks start at 10:00 am and build into the Derby card ? – You conduct live racing and keep the action building all day long. You have your 8-9 race program and finish in a couple of hours. – Now you’ve probably started wondering how in the heck can all this work as Churchill Downs has always started early. – How about having the Kentucky Derby card in Louisville begin at 2:00 pm ?

All EST tracks must be finshed by the first post time of Churchill Downs. – If the entire country worked around the Chruchill schedule maybe a lower rate could be negotited with CDI. – They will have center stage and most of the country would watch and wager on their product. – OK, if all tracks won’t buy into the process, keep the EST tracks on this schedule. If you take a little glimpse into the top metered markets, you’ll see many fit right into the EST region.



1. Louisville 39.0/65
2. Ft. Myers 21.3/39
3. Cincinnati 18.8/37
4. Buffalo 17.9/31
5. Knoxville 17.0/28
6. Dayton 16.2/29
7. Pittsburgh 15.5/30
8. Cleveland 15.1/29
9. Richmond 15.0/29
10. West Palm Beach 14.8/27
11. Columbus 14.6/28
12. Indianapolis 14.0/27
13. Baltimore 13.5/28
14. Greenville 13.2/21
15. Philadelphia 13.0/24
16. Orlando 12.7/25
T17. Milwaukee 12.5/28
T17. Nashville 12.5/21
19. Washington, DC 12.4/26
20. Detroit 12.2/24



By having early post times at your track and others. You would be finished with racing, and this would cut down on traffic that stiffles the betting lines. When I saw the Derby crowd this year, I knew it could be a nightmare getting your bet down. – The time change would alleviate the traffic in the betting lines and allow your location to focus on making changes for the Churchill card. – I like the idea of building into the big show.

Churchill Downs would have daylight for the greatest part of the day and they installed lighting to illuminate the track. – Is it starting to sound like it could work ? – How about Twinspires ? Here is how they did on the big day: “TwinSpires, the country’s leading online and mobile betting platform and the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, recorded $32.8 million in handle on Churchill Downs races for the Kentucky Derby Day program, an increase of 22% over the prior year. TwinSpires’ handle on the Kentucky Derby alone race was $20.1 million, up 22% over 2016.” – I wonder if they would do even better if there was one track, and the big race would go off in primetime ? – Maybe we’ll get to find out if we all sit down and work out a schedule.

No more running on top of each other spreading the wagering dollar thin. – The idea of a prime time Derby would allow many to enjoy the races later in the day. No more pre-wagering just to get your bet down if you’re working, and by having lesser competition there may be a grand opportunity to showcase the day even more. – All ideas as I read positive signs. It’s not a “don’t fix it if ain’t broke” scenario. It’s a focus on the big show and allow your facility to maximze wagering and attendance. By having the later time, racing would dominate the day as a massive celebration. Tracks and OTB’s could offer action from early to close. The ADW’s wouldn’t get bogged down with early track traffic, and the main focus could be on the Derby.

Wagering was up, the weather was nasty and the track still did great numbers. I wonder what it would be like to catch your local oval early and stay for the day ? – Music, contests, and promtions could build during the day and by the time the Derby took to the track there would be a bigger concentration of wagering on the show. – We need to keep an open mind when it comes to changing what we’ve always done. With the track drying out during the day and one of the best track crews in the nation. I have to wonder what would Derby day have looked like with hours more to work the track. – We may have had a fast Kentucky Derby that would have basked in the glow of illuminated Churchill, and allowed many more households to enjoy the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”