- There will be no turf racing at Churchill Downs for the rest of the spring/summer 2022 race meet.
- Churchill Downs installed a $10 million USD Bermuda-hybrid course following the 2021 spring/summer meet.
- Even without turf races, there should be plenty of racing excitement on the final days of action at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs continues to have problems with their new turf course, installed at a cost of $10 million USD following the 2021 spring/summer race meet. The ‘upgraded’ Bermuda-hybrid turf course has been somewhere between a ‘fiasco’ and ‘disaster’. There were numerous complaints from horsemen about loose footing, soft spots and large divots all over the course. After a three year old colt named Gingrich was fatally injured in a race on June 10, turf racing was suspended.
Earlier today, Churchill Downs officials announced that there would be no further turf racing during the current meet, set to end on Monday, July 4. The original plan was to limit turf racing to the four scheduled stakes events but that was changed after a training session on Tuesday morning. As a result, the Grade 2 Wise Dan has been canceled while the other three stakes events originally scheduled for the turf track (Saturday’s American Derby and Tepin, Sunday’s Anchorage) will move to the main track and be run on dirt.
While this is the sort of thing that could put a serious damper on the rest of the Churchill meet, this hasn’t been the case. To the contrary–with a number of intriguing stakes events headed up by the Grade 2 Stephen Foster on Saturday, anticipation continues to run high for some first rate equine excitement. Even better is the news reported by the Daily Racing Form that railbirds can expect full fields in several of Friday’s allowance races. For a sport that has struggled with small fields for most of the year, that’s good news.
Friday’s card offers nice purses in several allowance races and that has resulted in plenty of interest from horsemen. Race 4 is a maiden special weight for two year old fillies going five furlongs with a purse of $120,000 USD. 11 runners have been entered in this race with Promise of Hope a 2-1 morning line favorite. Race 7 is for two year old fillies over five furlongs with another $120,000 USD purse with Mark Casse trained Personal Pursuit the 7-2 morning line favorite in a field of 11 runners. Race 8 is for older fillies and mares (3 years old and up) over a mile with a purse of $127,000 USD. Steve Asmussen’s Hot and Sultry is a 2-1 morning line favorite in a field of 8. Race 9 is an allowance race for $127,000 USD for 3 year old fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles. Todd Pletcher’s Colorful Mischief is the morning line choice at 5-2 in a field of 11. Race 10 offers a purse of $134,000 USD for horses 3 and up over 1 1/16 miles with Ethical Judgement a 7-2 ML chalk in a wide open field of 13. The day concludes with a maiden special weight for horses three and up going 1 1/16 miles. Tepeu is a 3-1 favorite just ahead of Afjan and Sticky Issue at 7-2 in what looks like an extremely competitive race.
Saturday’s card still looks stacked even with the ‘scratch’ of the Grade 2 Wise Dan due to the turf track issues. Five stakes events remain including the Grade 2 Steven Foster which will have a field of 7 led by Olympiad and Mandaloun. There may be some scratches in the American Derby and Tepin (the races that were moved from turf to dirt) but for now there are 7 runners in the former event and 11 in the latter.
I’m planning to come up with some analysis and selections on the Saturday card and if time allows I’ll see what I can do for Friday as well.