12/16/2009 12:00AM

Churchill delays online Derby ticket sales

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Citing a "potential data error with its new online box office," Churchill Downs announced Wednesday morning that online sales of a limited number of tickets to the 2010 Kentucky Oaks and Derby have been delayed indefinitely.

The tickets were scheduled to go on sale Wednesday at noon Eastern, but about an hour before the sales were to start, the company put out a media release saying the new sales website, tickets.churchilldowns.com, had been found to have "potential customer service issues." A date and time for the sales has not been set.

Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs, said in the release that "Churchill Downs regrets having to make this late announcement of a delay, but the customer experience comes first."

About 3,000 tickets each for Oaks Day and Derby Day (April 30 and May 1) are being sold online. Fifty six-seat boxes (300 seats) are in a third-floor clubhouse section just beyond the finish line, while the balance are first-floor seats on the clubhouse turn or grandstand bleacher seats.

This is the first time Churchill will have offered online sales of Derby and Oaks tickets, although in recent years the track had sold about 1,000 tickets for each day to fans willing to show up to buy them in person on an appointed date. Historically, no sales had been available to the general public.