News and STORIES

Churchill Downs Spring Stakes Schedule Set

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Tuesday May 05, 2020
The Churchill Downs spring meet stakes schedule is set after Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear approved racing without spectators on April 29. The shortened spring meet will be headlined by two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series events and a points race for the Road to the Kentucky Derby. 

There will be 16 stakes races totaling $2.25 million for the 26-day meet, with the $500,000 Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) topping the list. The meet is set to begin on May 16, after it was postponed from its original April 25 date. 

The June 27 card, which is the closing day of the meet, will be highlighted by the 1 1/8-mile feature for 4-year-olds and up. The winner will receive an automatic berth to the Nov. 7 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland. 

Also on the June 27 card will be the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2). It is a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares that are 4-years-old and up, and the winner will be awarded a spot in the Nov. 7 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). 

Changes Due to Postponement of the Derby

There have been changes made to the meet due to the postponement of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to Sept. 5. One such change was the addition of the $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) to the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and it is set to run on May 23. 

The Matt Winn Stakes is a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds, and it will award Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers. In the next few weeks, more races will be added to the series schedule as new information from tracks becomes available. 

Following the opening weekend at Churchill Downs, racing will be set for Thursdays through Sundays. There will also be a special Monday card on May 25 for Memorial Day. 

Each day of racing, there will be an average of $559,000 awarded. One hundred twenty-five races are set to run, totaling $7.265 million, in the first condition book, which runs May 16 through June 5. 

Each Maiden special weight race will offer a purse of $79,000, while allowance races will vary between $81,000 and $88,000. All of the purses will include money that comes from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. 

Each starting race will have its post time set at 1 p.m. ET, and all of the spring meet racing will go on without spectators. This will only change once government officials approve the return of fans to Churchill Downs. 

The second condition book for racing is for June 6 through June 27, and it is expected to be released by May 29. 

Reopening Stable Areas

Churchill Downs was approved on April 29 by state officials to reopen stable areas May 11 at Churchill Downs and the auxiliary training center Trackside. This has to take place under strict guidelines due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The track will rely on a phased and systematic approach to reopen the stable areas. 

Horses stabled at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots can come back May 11-13, while horses at Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Florida Training centers can return May 14-16. As for Oaklawn Park-based horses, the date is set for May 17-19, and all other locales on May 20. 

One of the new policies is that entrance into the facility will only be permitted for authorized racetrack employees and KHRC license holders who are providing support to stabled horses. This policy is specifically aimed at trainers with horses stabled and racing on the facility grounds, as well as veterinarians, grooms, exercise riders, and farriers responsible for care.