04/15/2015 12:10PM

Churchill unveils new suites for Derby, Oaks owners

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Green awnings cover the 20 suites Churchill has built for owners of Derby and Oaks runners.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs on Wednesday unveiled its renovated section for the owners of Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses, a ground-floor section comprising 20 private, open-air, all-inclusive suites between the sixteenth pole and finish line.

The $4.2 million project aims in part to ease some of the ticketing headaches that have existed in prior years for some owners. Each ownership entity for the Derby and Oaks will be provided with 18 complimentary tickets in their own suite as well as the option to buy a six-seat box in section 318, a prime viewing area in the upper clubhouse.

“This allows us to have the competitors in the Derby and Oaks together and to have them really enjoy their experience,” Churchill racetrack president Kevin Flanery told a gathering of media. “We’ll be able to give them a little tender, loving care and have a great time.”

The new suites are under cover and are located adjacent to a new trackside winner’s circle that will be used for post-race ceremonies other than after the Derby, which still will use the traditional infield cupola for the winner. The runway leading from the paddock to the racetrack splits the suites into groups of nine and 11 while replacing sections 118 and 119 and a part of section 120. There are sizable open green spaces situated between the suites and racetrack that will have multiple uses, including temporary seating during Derby week. The suites will be used for live-racing events during other times of the year.

The project is the latest at Churchill in remodeling its 140-year-old facility. Nearly $180 million has been spent in the last decade on numerous upgrades, including a massive clubhouse and grandstand renovation completed in time for the 2005 Derby and the addition last year of the Big Board videotron that can be seen from virtually every vantage point in the grandstand, clubhouse, and infield.

Churchill general manager Ryan Jordan said racetrack staff works year-round “to improve the customer experience. We think we’ve done that here.”

Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
I will be in suite 17a on Friday and Saturday if anyone wants to join me. Afterwards we can go out for some real food, like for an In 'N Out burger, or even Cracker Barrell after the races. Please let me know at least 7 days in advance if youz need a seat. Vince P
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
I'd rather be at Newmarket Watching the Guineas.
Debbie Gardner More than 1 year ago
Churchill Downs, how about making 10 cent supers available on Ky. Derby and Oaks days? If they did, the super pools would triple. If they don't want to create long lines, or any longer, due to super bettors, they could designate certain lines for super betting only. Or make it available on-line. At the very least, make 50 cent supers. Also, maybe they could figure out something to do with the starting gate to help elevate the # 1 hole being the kiss of death? not sure what that fix could be. Or, limit the number of horses to 15 in the Derby, where maybe the best horse would have a better chance of winning. Unfortunately, and I hope it never happens, the only thing that would force CD to reduce the field size in the Derby is a catastrophic spill involving numerous horses. Of course I hope that don't happen. And, lastly, maybe CD could make some changes to make it more comfortable for all the people in the infield. More betting windows, restrooms, etc..
Frank More than 1 year ago
What a stupid thing to say debbie to even mention about a spill. shame on you!
Debbie Gardner More than 1 year ago
FRank, I did say, of course, I hope that never happens, but you are talking about a 20 horse field. Its the last thing I want to see, so I don't think its a stupid thing to say. If you want to criticize maybe it should be directed to Churchill Downs for having a 20 horse field.
Frank More than 1 year ago
Only thing I care about is that Churchhill doesnt F' up the track like they did last year and make it a total speed bias CA track! Which I believe they completely set it up that way to favor CC. So please Churchhill make the track fair or I dont bet!
tommy More than 1 year ago
Frank the tank!!!!!!!!!!!!
C Bisquit More than 1 year ago
ask the owners who have had to fork out a ransom just to be at CD with their guests. I dare CD to tell the public how much this will cost for the day or weekend package? 500k? just guessing. CD loves to premium price for sure. I have taken the KD off my bucket list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good move. take care of the people who put up their money to put on the show.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
Churchill does nothing for the customer. This whole project has just been to jack up prices on Derby day. The only day the care about anymore.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Customer experience ? No mention was made of anything, but ownership entities.