The skyrocketing purse hikes at the NYRA tracks stemming from the VLT racino at Aqueduct are having a ripple effect on other racing jurisdictions. Yesterday, Churchill Downs announced it will raise overnight purses 10 percent for two reasons: 1) higher-than-expected wagering during Derby week; and 2) a shortage of horses to fill the better races — because so many of them have shipped to New York.
“Regrettably, our inability to regularly card races for high-quality horses due to Kentucky’s declining horse population is another factor for the purse increase,” said Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery. “Those types of races typically equate to higher purse money being offered, but they aren’t filling as often as we’d like.“Therefore, we have more money to distribute than originally projected. Instead, horses of that caliber are continuing to leave Kentucky for more lucrative opportunities in states that boost their purse structure from alternative revenue streams.”
Following heavy morning rain, there was no turf racing yesterday; the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth were switched to the main track, which was sloppy, sealed for the first eight races, muddy for the ninth. Two winners on the card for seven-pound apprentice Wilmer Garcia and trainer John Terranova.
FIRST RACE: Philly Parx shipper Coast of Sangria, dropping back down to the level of her last win (20G), got a perfect set-up as Benimari, Ramon Dominguez up, and World Premier, under Corey Nakatani, hooked up in a speed duel that carried them clear of the field around the turn, while Coast of Sangria tracked them outside. When they’d had enough, Coast of Sangria, 5-2 under double-bug Wilmer Garcia, swept past them outside and drew clear.
SECOND RACE: A McCoughtry, after closing ground to finish third and fourth in her first two starts going six furlongs for Jimmy Jerkens, was ignored at 13-1 stretching out to 1 1/16 miles. She set the pace from post 1 under Irad Ortiz Jr., opened daylight turning for home, then was under mild pressure to hold safe a late charge up the rail by 6-5 favorite Joya Real, who was put to a drive around the turn by Javier Castellano to finish second for the third time in three starts.
FIFTH RACE: After eight scratches, a field of five raced 1 1/6 miles for a $75,000 purse. Tizfirst, 5-2 with blinkers off for John Terranova after finishing third on turf in his only other start this year, quickly dashed to a daylight lead under Javier Castellano, shook off challenges from Special Guest and Star Lillie around the turn, then drew clear. Abaco, favored at 3-5 after finishing a close third on turf at Gulfstream in his only start since Saratoga, trailed the field early and rallied very wide to finish third while never threatening the winner.
SIXTH RACE: Hoist, hammered to 6-5, and 9-2 War Colony were the only two main-track-only entrants in field reduced to six after seven late scratches, racing for a $55,000 purse. War Colony gunned to the front under Javier Castellano, pressed by Hoist, Cornelio Velasquez up. Those two dueled through furious fractions of :21.90 and :44.65 while pulling well clear of the rest of the field, then continued to battle it out around the turn and down the stretch, with Hoist clawing past War Colony in the final yards. Even though they slowed down considerably in the late going, running seven furlongs in 1:24.59, none of the others ever got close to them.
19 consolation (5 of 6) paid $572