Horse racing is returning to the state of Kentucky, most notably at Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs has announced that they will resume live racing on May 16.
Churchill Downs is the home of the Kentucky Derby, which is one of the most famous horse racing events in the world. The Kentucky Derby was supposed to be held last weekend, but it has been postponed until Labor Day weekend in September.
Even though a handful of horse racing tracks continued to operate throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Churchill Downs was shut down in Kentucky. When the race track does open back up, there will be several changes implemented to keep everyone safe.
Trainers and their horses will be allowed back on the premises just five days ahead of the first scheduled race. There are still a large number of horses on-site, horses that will be entered in the upcoming races will have a few days to train on the track before running any races.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced last week that he had reviewed plans submitted by Churchill Downs, and he had given them the green light to resume operations. These plans included hosting all of the events without any fans, and only allowing a select number of workers and race personnel on the track.
Churchill Downs released a schedule of the races set to take place at the race track over the weekend. When the schedule was released, it became evident that Churchill Downs is hoping to make up for some lost time.
Races will take place every Thursday through Sunday each week, with race weekends scheduled through June 27. Churchill Downs has also announced that they are planning on hosting a special event Memorial Day weekend.
Churchill Downs, Inc. announced their first-quarter earnings last week, and the numbers were not good. Both revenue and profits suffered a major decline, which has been the norm for other companies in the gaming industry around the country.
Churchill Downs, Inc. posted net revenue of $252.9 million during the first quarter in 2020. The company posted net revenue of $265.4 million during the same period in 2019.
While these numbers might not seem as bad as one would assume, the second quarter is expected to be even worse. Casinos were only closed for about two weeks during the first quarter as opposed to almost two months in the second quarter.
Churchill Downs announced furloughs of casino employees at 10 of their locations last month. The casinos started to see a large decrease in customers even before the closures, as the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping across the country.
Executives from Churchill Downs Inc. announced over the weekend that they are going to be able to get through the closures. There is hope that all of the locations in the state will be reopened by the end of May.
Even though Churchill Downs Inc. is expected to survive the pandemic, it has forced the company to make several major changes. The company announced some major development plans that would take place this year, but those are not placed on hold.
Construction is expected to be completed on the Oak Grove harness track, as well as on the historical racing parlor that will be built in Western Kentucky.
There was a $300 million major hotel and HHR venue set to be built at the flagship property of Churchill Downs Inc., but those plans will be put on hold. The project will be re-evaluated after the 2021 running of the Kentucky Derby. Getting racing back throughout the state is a good start.