LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 03, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wagering on Friday’s 145th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) reached record levels at Churchill Downs Racetrack as Serengeti Empress captured the race before a crowd of 105,719 that braved early morning rain. Attendance decreased 7% compared to last year which had more favorable weather conditions. This follows a record-breaking Thursday (“Thurby”) crowd of 48,212.
Wagering from all-sources was the highest all-time on both the Kentucky Oaks program and on the Kentucky Oaks race.
Wagering from all-sources on the full Kentucky Oaks Day race card totaled $60.2 million, an 8% increase over the previous wagering record total of $55.8 million in 2018. All-sources wagering on the Kentucky Oaks race rose 10% to $19.4 million from the previous Oaks race record total of $17.5 million in 2018.
TRACK PRESIDENT COMMENTARY
“Congratulations to the connections of Serengeti Empress and special thanks to all of the horse owners, trainers and jockeys who participated in today’s races,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “Today’s record handle shows that the Kentucky Oaks has established itself as one of the world’s most popular events.”
“Our guests were able to benefit from the most recent improvements to the facility including the new Starting Gate Suites Rooftop Lounge that added approximately 500 new seats. We also made several improvements to dining areas inside the facility and replaced nearly 25,000 seats in our outdoor grandstand and clubhouse sections that enhanced the guest experience. We look forward to tomorrow for what we know will be a memorable 145th running of the Kentucky Derby,” Flanery said.
Churchill Downs held its 11th annual “Pink Out” in partnership with Derby Divas and in support of Norton Cancer Institute - during the celebration of the Longines Kentucky Oaks.
The Churchill Downs Incorporated Foundation donated $50,000 and helped raise an additional $23,877 through on-line donations to benefit the Breast Health Program at Norton Cancer Institute, a local non-profit, focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
Churchill Downs also donated $1 from each Friday sale of the Finlandia Oaks Lily®, the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks, to Derby Divas, a group of dedicated volunteers who have partnered with Norton Healthcare to raise funds to make sure underserved women have access to mammograms and other key services to help prevent, detect and treat breast cancer.
The Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade presented by Kroger celebrated 145 cancer survivors who marched down Churchill Downs’ historic homestretch prior to the running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks to help raise national awareness of breast and ovarian health and honor survivors.
Serengeti Empress, owned by Joel Politi and bred in Kentucky by Tri Eques Bloodstock, LLC, led from gate to wire and held off Coffeepot Stables’ Liora to win the Longines Kentucky Oaks by 1 3/4 lengths at odds of 13-1 in a final time of 1:50.17. Both jockey Jose Ortiz and trainer Tom Amoss, won the race for the first time. The daughter of Alternation out of the Bernardini mare Havisham was also the first Longines Kentucky Oaks winner owned by Politi. She now has a lifetime record of five wins in eight starts and increased her lifetime earnings to $1,044,870 and returned $28 for a $2 win wager.
About Churchill Downs Racetrack
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, The Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (CHDN) offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4, 2019. The track’s 2019 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 27 – June 29. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships nine times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found online at www.churchilldowns.com.
About Churchill Downs Incorporated
Churchill Downs Incorporated ("CDI") (CHDN), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is an industry-leading racing, gaming and online entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event – The Kentucky Derby. We own and operate the largest legal online horseracing wagering platform in the U.S., through our TwinSpires business. We are also a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with approximately 11,000 slot machines and VLTs and approximately 200 table games in eight states. In August 2018, we launched our BetAmerica Sportsbook at our two Mississippi casino properties and have announced plans to enter additional U.S. sports betting and iGaming markets. Derby City Gaming, the first historical racing machine ("HRM") facility in Louisville, Kentucky, was opened in September 2018 with 900 HRM machines. Additional information about CDI can be found online at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.
Contact: Nick Zangari