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Churchill Downs enhancing experience for Derby and Oaks owners

Will include 20 Winner’s Circle Suites

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2014) — Churchill Downs is enhancing the experience for horse owners competing in the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

A $4.2 million capital improvement project includes the construction of 20 private, open-air, all-inclusive Winner’s Circle Suites in a premium location under the Twin Spires between the sixteenth pole and finish line. The project also includes a remodeled Trackside Winner’s Circle and the creation of a new Courtyard that will accommodate temporary premium seating during Derby Week while providing a relaxed park-like setting for everyday racing fans.

An artist rendering of the new suites.
An artist rendering of the new suites.

Winner’s Circle Suites will be located adjacent to the Trackside Winner’s Circle with easy access to the racetrack and paddock runway. The number of complimentary tickets for all participating owners in the Derby and Oaks will be tripled to 18 tickets for their respective race day.

The Winner’s Circle Suites will feature comfortable undercover seating with in-venue wagering options and full-service hospitality, including a premium open bar and gourmet food. Also, guests will have access to an indoor, semi-private hospitality area and restrooms exclusive to the venue. All areas of the project will be accessible for persons with mobility disabilities.

In prior years, owners of Oaks and Derby horses received a complimentary six-person box in Section 318, food and beverage hospitality in a separate area overlooking the paddock, and the opportunity to purchase two additional boxes in 318. Should owners require additional seating in 2015 beyond the 18 complimentary tickets provided, they may still purchase an additional box of six seats in Section 318.

The project is the latest investment by Churchill Downs to upgrade and enhance its historic racing and entertainment facility. More than $178 million has been devoted in the last decade to enrich the on-track experience, including: a sweeping Clubhouse and Grandstand renovation (2005); permanent lights (2010); the Plaza/Plaza Balcony (2012); The Mansion (2013); The Parlay (2013); the Grandstand Terrace (2014); and the world’s largest 4K ultra-high definition Big Board with an enhanced sound system (2014).

The new Winner’s Circle Suites and Courtyard will be constructed in a premium location of the facility by converting what are now box seats in Section 118 and 119 Clubhouse on the south side of the paddock runway, and bleacher seats in Section 119 Grandstand and one-third of Section 120 Grandstand on the paddock runway’s north side. Total seating in the areas before renovation was 3,345, and the new space will accommodate more than 1,800.

The Courtyard will be a spacious lawn area in front of the Winner’s Circle Suites. For Derby Week, more than 600 temporary premium seats will be configured in traditional rows and aisles with padded chairs, and those guests will have access to an exclusive hospitality space with an all-inclusive menu and restrooms. Seating in the existing Sections 218-219 will have access to the hospitality space, as well.

Select guests that are affected by the Winner’s Circle Suites and Courtyard Project will be contacted by track officials, and every effort will be made to relocate those guests to a comparable area. Additionally, those guests can opt to upgrade their seating packages with new inventory, including more availability in Section 318, or premium areas that include food and beverage hospitality.

Courtyard seats for Derby Week will be offered to existing customers first. Any remaining inventory will be sold to the general public through an online sale in mid-November.

Guests seated in most sections, including the new Winner’s Circle Suites and Courtyard, will have unobstructed views of the racetrack and the Big Board, which is 171-feet wide, 90-feet tall and towers 80-feet above the ground to top out at 170 feet high.

The Trackside Winner’s Circle will be remodeled and repositioned directly next to the paddock runway on the south side to create more space for winning horses, their connections and other dignitaries.

Construction on the $4.2 million project will begin in December after the conclusion of the Fall Meet, and will be complete before the start of the 2015 Spring Meet on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

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