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Current Era

2001 - Growth of the Kentucky Derby continued on all fronts as the 127th running attracted a crowd of 154,210, the second largest attendance in Derby history. Overall Derby Day wagering (all sources) rose to a record $107,598,904. For the first time in Derby pari-mutuel wagering history, all horses ran uncoupled with no entries or mutuel fields as betting interests. Early nominees to the Visa Triple Crown totaled a record 440 and broke the previous mark of 422 established in 1986, the first year of the common nomination process for the Visa Triple Crown. Monarchos won the Derby in the second-fastest running, 1:59.97. The National Broadcasting Company's (NBC) first-ever television coverage of the Kentucky Derby attracted a national rating of 8.1, a 40 percent increase over ABC's 5.8 rating for the 2000 Derby. Jockey Pat Day scored the 8,000th win of his career on May 31, as he joined Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Bill Shoemaker as the only North American riders to reach that plateau. Chairman William S. Farish is nominated to the post of U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, he is formally confirmed in July. Carl F. Pollard replaces Farish on July 24 to become the fourth-consecutive breeder to serve as chairman. Following the end of the Spring Meet, Levy Restaurants replaced Aramark, which has served as the food service provider at the Downs since 1994 when they acquired the former harry M. Stevens Company. An economic impact study commissioned by Churchill Downs is released in August and reports that the 2001 Kentucky Derby weekend (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) provided nearly $218 million to the Kentucky economy. The Kentucky Racing Commission and representatives of the racing industry host three hearings at sites around the state to address issues facing the industry including shrinking purses, competition for gambling dollars and the mare reproductive loss syndrome. On September 11, Churchill Downs Incorporated suspends all live racing and off-track wagering operations in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York; facilities re-opened on Sept. 13. The board of directors, on Sept. 27, approved a renovation plan to begin a $27 million Phase I project that will include 66 luxury suites, built atop the existing grandstand roof; a large club area adjacent to the suites; and renovations of the first-floor grandstand and first and second floors of the Jockey Club (the oldest portion of the track built in 1894-95); the plan also calls for a $100 million Phase II to be voted on by the board in June 2002. A new video board, utilizing light-emitting technology, is placed on the roof of the paddock structure prior to the Fall Meet to replace the original board used since 1986. The 1990 Kentucky Derby winner, Unbridled, is euthanized on Oct. 18 after suffering a severe bout of colic. In the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedies on America, the Fall Meet opened with tighter security measures including uniformed officers, prohibiting of duffel bags and coolers, and extra surveillance cameras for the admissions gates and service gates. A crowd of 19,806 flocked to the track for the Pat Day Bobblehead Doll giveaway, with 10,000 giveaway vouchers distributed within a half-hour. Leonard Coleman, former president of National League Baseball, became the first African-American to be appointed to the Downs board of directors following an announcement in November. The Fall Meet closed with a crowd of 18,571 on hand, the largest meet-ending crowd since 1990. The Stephen Foster handicap and Humana Distaff Handicap are elevated to Grade I status, and join the Derby and Oaks as the track's only Grade I races. Two additional $100,000 stakes are placed on the spring schedule and include the Matt Winn and Northern Dancer.

2002 - City Of Louisville officials and Churchill Downs seek special national security status for Kentucky Derby from Homeland Security Office, but were denied…Increased Oaks and Derby security measures are implemented including magnetic wand searches of all persons entering the track; no coolers, backpacks, bottles, cans or lotion containers; and an increase in the presence of uniformed security personnel…An 11th race is added to the Derby Day card as the derby event is moved to the 9th event from its previous slot as the 8th race…For the first time in history, the color coded, standardized numbered saddle towels are used for the Kentucky Derby…Derby attracts 145,033, fifth largest crowd in history, and the Oaks draws 101,923, the third largest attendance…On May 7 Seattle Slew, the only remaining Triple Crown winner, dies on the 25th anniversary of his Derby win…Churchill Downs strengthens tie to Derby Festival as official sponsor of the Great Steamboat Race…Two Japanese-breds are nominated for the Triple Crown, making a first for Japan…Employees cleaning a storage area find trainer Woody Stephens's 1984 Derby trophy that was mistakenly stored there for 18 years - the trophy was returned to Stephens's widow, Lucille…After approximately eight years of groundwork, on Feb. 26 legislative leaders file House Bill 768 to allow slots at the state's eight racetracks with the bill passing the House Licensing and Occupations Committee before stalling in the Appropriations and Revenue Committee…Following the spring meet, work begins on the Master Plan's $26 million Phase I with construction of three additional floors to the grandstand area that provide 66 luxury suites…During Phase I, the famed Twin Spires receive a total renovation…On Sept. 26, the board of directors approves $95 million Phase II renovations that will totally rebuild the track's clubhouse area with construction to begin in July 2003…Due to a conflict in dates with the national FFA convention in 2005, the Breeders' Cup announces its intent to host the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs in 2006…On Nov. 13, Churchill implements a policy in which wagering ends when the tote board reaches zero minutes to post, the measure is developed to bolster the integrity of wagering following a scandal in the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick Six…Jockey John McKee breaks Steve Cauthen's record for most Fall Meet wins by an apprentice rider with 27 victories…Steve Sexton is appointed as the 12th track president of Churchill Downs on Dec. 10…Churchill Downs Incorporated's CFO Bob Decker resigns his position and is replaced by Mike Miller, the company's senior vice president of finance…Churchill and the City of Louisville finalized a 30-year-argreement on Dec. 26 to help fund the Master plan giving the city title to the track and then leasing it back - by removing the track from city property tax the plan would save the track approximately $250,000 per year following annual donation of $250,000 to Jefferson County Schools.

2003 - CDI launches the "Pay Day" online contest, which offers a $5 million prize to the player that picks the exact order of finish of the 129th Kentucky Derby. CDI open NASDAQ market site April 25. Funny Cide defeated heavily favored Empire Maker to become the first New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby. Phase I of the Master Plan renovations are completed and the new Jockey Club luxury suites are open for the Fall Meet, as Phase II of the renovations begin. October 3, Chief Operating Officer John Long resigns from Churchill Downs to take the position of chief executive officer of the newly formed United States Equestrian Foundation. The Klein Family Learning Center and WinStar Library open on Churchill's backside to provide educational opportunities to backside employees and their families. Churchill Downs records gains in on-track attendance and wagering despite construction and total betting sets a record.

2004 - Churchill Downs Stakes schedule grew to a record 45 events (33 Spring, 12 Fall) with record purses of $9.375 million… Large screen video-display boards are added atop the infield toteboards at a cost of $1.5 million prior to the Spring Meet… On March 22 an OTB parlor opens in nearby Clarksville, IN, operated by Indiana Downs, a competitor to CDI's Hoosier Park… Susan E. Packard is voted to the CDI Board of Directors in June as the first woman to serve on the board… For the second time a NASCAR stock car is created with a Kentucky Derby theme and is featured on Sterling Marlin's Coors Light Dodge - this follows the 1999 NASCAR stock car featuring the 125th Derby logo driven by Jeremy Mayfield… Just two days before the Derby a federal judge ruled on Thursday to allow jockeys the right to wear advertising in the Kentucky Derby and on race day, the Kentucky Racing Authority broadened the ruling to include all jockeys racing in Kentucky… For the first time in over 20 years (1983), the Kentucky Derby winner, Smarty Jones, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated… Pick Six records for the CD Pick Six were set on May 6 for largest one-day betting, $2,035, 975 and total pool, $2,891,517.85… Sunday, May 30, severe weather prompted officials to cancel racing after four races - the six cancelled races were held during the meet… Colonial Colony (62-1) pulled an upset in the $750,000 Grade I Stephen Foster… Ken & Sarah Ramsey win the Spring Meet title and set the record for most career CD owner titles - 10… Personal Seat Licenses for 3,118 seats are offered for the first time in track history as 30-year-licenses ranging between $18,000 and $75,000 are sold and provide license holders the right to purchase tickets to the Kentucky Oaks, Derby and Breeders' Cup… A storm caused a power outage that forced Trackside Louisville to close for two days, July 14-15… On Sept. 1, CDI officials announced that an agreement had been made for the purchase of the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, LA for a price of $47 million… Three lower floors of the $121 million renovation project are opened for the track's Fall Meet and provided the fans a sneak preview of the final project to be opened the Spring 2005… A Super Sized Sixth Race Superfecta was offered each day during the Fall and provided bettors with a guaranteed minimum pool of $100,000… On Sunday, Nov. 7, following track officials offer to settle a dispute over personal accident insurance; track officials banned 15 jockeys for the remainder of the Fall Meet after they refused to accept mounts… An international simulcast distribution agreement is made between CDI and Magna Entertainment Corp. that will distribute race signals, including the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, to Europe through Magna's Austrian subsidiary, MEC Sport and Entertainment - outlets are in Great Britain, Ireland, Austria and Germany…

2005 - The horse racing world was stunned by the finish of Giacomo ridden by Mike smith to a surprise finish and odds of 25 to 1

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