Derby Day After

10 May 2005

Interactive gambling services played a prominent part in the 131st Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Some helped set handle records for the event, while others caught the ire of racing officials.

Sites that offer advanced deposit wagering helped boost off-track handle for the event to a record high of more than $93 million. That figure, combined with the $10 million-plus bet at the track, made it the first time in North America that a single race generated more than $100 million in bets. (A total of $103.3 million was wagered.)

Betting from all sources on the track's 12-race Derby Day program totaled $155 million, which established a North American record for a single racing program. This year's total reflected an increase of nearly 9 percent from the previous record of $142.8 million set in 2004.

Off-track wagering on the complete Churchill Downs program rose to a record $133 million, a gain of nearly 8 percent from the previous record total of $123.6 million established in 2004.

Interactive race wagering services and TVG's XpressBet are believed to have had record setting days as well, although SEC restrictions prevented them from disclosing specific numbers.

For three consecutive years, Youbet has seen increases in turnover on all Triple Crown races over the previous year, and analysts believe this year will be no different. The company said it would be reporting its turnover from the Kentucky Derby later this month during a conference call.

On-track wagering for the Derby race at Churchill Downs was up 6 percent from last year, while wagering for the entire day was up 15 percent. Off-track wagering was up nearly 4 percent from last year, while wagering for the entire day increased by 7.6 percent. Turnover from all sources for the Kentucky Derby was up 4 percent from last year, while turnover for the entire day from all sources rose 8.6 percent.

The betting news was positive for racing officials, but not everyone was happy about the role of online gambling sites in the event, as advertisements displayed on the silks of four of the jockeys during Saturday's race have resulted an investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

One of the controversial ads was a spot on the back of jockey Jeremy Rose, who rode Afleet Alex to a third-place finish in the Run for the Roses. Three other jockeys had ads on their silks, none of which sought prior approval for the ads.

Last year a group of jockeys went to the federal court to challenge a ruling that had barred them from wearing advertisements on their silks. U.S. District Judge John Heyburn overturned a state ban on ads and logos, and the state racing authority instituted a new procedure for jockey ads.

Under the new policy, jockeys can only wear ads on their silks after they are given written approval from the horse's owner and track stewards 72 hours before the race.

Racing Authority Executive Director Jim Gallagher said the agency's staff is reviewing photographs and videotapes to determine how many jockeys had unapproved ads on britches.

Gallagher said all jockeys were aware of the new rule, which was widely disseminated.

Track officials said the jockeys didn't get permission to wear the ads before Saturday's race. Track spokesman John Asher said only Gary Stevens in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and Jerry Bailey in the Derby had been approved to wear ads on Derby Day.

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