Improvements at Churchill Downs
In the world of sports, there is not a more moving moment than when the horses step onto the track for the Kentucky Derby post parade and the band strikes up “My Old Kentucky Home.” And let’s not forget the hats, the festival of two days, the mint julep. Click on this link about your best derby hats from Kirby Adams of the Courier-Journal: Nothing quite as fabulous as a good Derby hat.
This year, visitors to the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday will be met with a revamped feel and a smattering of new amenities and capital improvements designed to enhance their dining and wagering experiences.
Rendering of 2nd floor Clubhouse renovation.
Renovation of Turf Club, Churchill Downs
According to Aaron Stanley of CDC Gaming Reports, Bill Carstanjen, chief executive officer of Churchill Downs said “The big change you will see this year is the $16 million renovation project of the clubhouse.” The new and improved clubhouse will feature 95,000 square feet of renovated space, 220 flat-screen televisions, 180 new pari-mutuel wagering windows and 133 restroom stalls…..new food and beverage offerings includes several bars named after prior Derby winners, such as Behave Yourself, Spend a Buck, Regret and I’ll Have Another.”
The $12 million video board, which will have a 15,224-square-foot screen towers over the backstretch, 80 feet over the ground and is 170 feet off the ground at its peak – higher than the iconic Twin Spires, which are 120 feet above the ground. The board is clearly visible from the new, $14.5 million Grandstand Terrace seating area, which Churchill officials say represents the first major upgrade to the part of the track closest to Central Avenue — and overlooking the Kentucky Derby starting gate — since the 1950s.
Betting the 2017 Kentucky the Derby
Gary Trask of CasinoCityTimes said recently interest in the Kentucky Derby has been at an all time high. Trask states, “When Nyquist won last year’s Derby, the attendance at the track was 167,227, the second-largest in history, and the total amount wagered ($192.6 million) was also the second-highest ever. Both records were set two years ago when 170,513 people witnessed eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a race that prompted $194.3 million in wagers. WalletHub.com predicts that $200 million will be wagered on this year’s race….. even though, overall, the horse racing industry is experiencing a steep decline.”
Trask also has some betting advice for this year’s Derby:
Avoid the far inside and outside posts – Since the 20-horse full field became the norm, it has made it extremely difficult for those horses to use early speed to get ahead of the pack, or to overcome hanging back and falling behind. Since 1964, only one horse has won at either the 1 or 20th positions. “Somewhere between 8 and 13 are probably the best spots to be.”
10 and 5 have been prosperous – The best starting post in Kentucky Derby history has been the 10, with 11.3% of the wins and coming in the money 30% of the time. The No. 5 post isn’t far behind, with a 10.3 winning percentage and coming in the money 23% of the time.
The “curse” of the 14 post – While horses breaking from the 13 post and out have won six of the last nine races, the 14 starting spot has been somewhat of a jinx, holding the longest current drought since producing a winner. For some reason, the last time a horse in the 14 block has won the Derby came way back in 1961.
Finally, Longshots worth looking at – So, with Dempsey calling for the end of the favorites’ reign at the Derby, we asked if he had any longshots we could dive in on and “bet a little to win a lot.” He gave us three, keeping in mind that his opinion could change depending on the post position:
- J Boys Echo (33-to-1): Although he struggled in his final prep race with a fourth place at the Blue Grass in Kneeneland, he owns the highest Beyer Speed Figure earned this year by a Derby contender.
- Hence (22-to-1): Won the Sunland Derby, which produced recent Derby winners Mine That Bird, the horse that owns one of the biggest upsets in history by cashing a 50-to-1 ticket in 2009, and Firing Line, who ran second last year.
- Practical Joke (14-to-1): Trainer Chad Brown is one of the best in the business and won the Eclipse Award for top trainer in 2016. Practical Joke won two Grade 1 races as a juvenile and is lightly races so far this year with just two starts, including a place in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.
BTW – A local plug for Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast (where, together you & Vito can make luck happen!). A CT native with a Casino Podcast on the rise! Today, he released his latest episode “How To Enjoy the Kentucky Derby.” He’s a hoot, with guest Marco D’Angelo from Wagertalk.com.
The most exciting 2 minutes in horse racing takes place Saturday. Where will you be to celebrate. Later today, watch for NETimeGambling’s coverage of New England’s casino celebration of the Derby – Fancy Hats, Mint Juleps, and Roses, oh my!