10/13/2010 3:22PM

Kentucky tracks request slightly more dates for 2011


Kentucky’s five Thoroughbred racetracks have applied for 208 live race dates in 2011, according to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, a number that is a slight increase over the number of live race dates the tracks applied for in 2010.

According to the commission, Churchill Downs has applied for 60 live racing dates, down from 62 last year; Keeneland has applied for 32 race dates, identical to last year’s request; Turfway Park has applied for 81 dates, four more than last year; Ellis Park has applied for 31 dates, also four more than last year’s request; and Kentucky Downs has applied for four race dates.

In total, the tracks are requesting eight more race dates than those that are scheduled to be run in 2010. Although tracks had initially requested 206 dates in 2010, that number was reduced by four race dates by cancellations that were approved by the commission.

The dates requests were discussed by a committee of the commission at a meeting on Tuesday. The requests will go before the full racing commission on Oct. 26.

Over the past two years, both Turfway Park and Ellis Park have slashed racing dates as the tracks sought to mitigate the pressures caused by competition from slots subsidies at tracks in neighboring states and the steep declines in the racing industry that have accompanied the recession. Churchill has also eliminated several Wednesday race cards from its schedule over the last year.

In a slight change for Churchill, the track has asked to race on Saturday night, April 30, to open its spring meet, and then go dark until resuming racing on Tuesday, five days before the Derby. Churchill had previously run cards on both the Saturday and Sunday cards before the Derby, with dark days on Monday and Tuesday, before resuming racing on Wednesday.