Updated on 10/12/2011 1:11PM

Churchill dates for 2012 do not include July 4


Churchill Downs has submitted a 2012 racing dates application that does not include the 4th of July holiday, which falls next year on a Wednesday.

The dates application, along with those of other racetracks in Kentucky, was approved on Tuesday by the racing dates committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The full commission is set to vote on the calendar on Oct. 24.

Churchill has raced on the 4th of July holiday for most of the last 20 years. The track applied for dates from April 28 to June 30, a Saturday. In the application, Churchill stated that it intended to run at night on opening and closing day, and on June 2 and June 16. The June 16 card includes the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Stakes, one of the spring meet’s most prominent races outside of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks day cards. Ellis Park in Western Kentucky applied for dates from July 1 to Labor Day. The track has traditionally overlapped with Churchill over the 4th of July weekend.

John Asher, Churchill's vice president of racing communications, said that the Wednesday date of the 4th of July was the primary factor that led the track to drop the dates from its 2012 schedule. In planning for the 2012 dates, the track had determined that it wanted to hold a night-racing card on closing day, and the Wednesday card would be a shaky prospect for business.

"You don't want a closing-night celebration followed by a workday," Asher said. "This just seemed to work the best. We'll evaluate it after it's over and look at it again next year."

Kentucky Downs near Franklin applied for six race dates, from Sept. 8-18. The track ran four days this year, but the recent installation of gambling devices called Instant Racing machines has encouraged the track to race additional days. Portions of the proceeds from the devices go to purses.