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    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Jan. 4, 2005) - Churchill Downs has increased the purse for the Kentucky Derby (Grade I) to a record $2 million guaranteed, which doubles the purse for America's greatest race and makes it one of the richest prizes in American racing as well as its most prestigious.

    The increase in the Kentucky Derby purse, the first since the purse was raised to $1 million guaranteed in 1996, places the famed "Run for the Roses" in a tie for second on the list of the richest races in the United States. The Breeders' Cup Classic Powered By Dodge has a purse of $4 million and ranks as the nation's richest racing event. With this increase, the Kentucky Derby is tied with the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (GI) and the Nextel Breeders' Cup Distaff (GI), the only other American races to carry a purse of $2 million.

    The first renewal of the Kentucky Derby with its $2 million guaranteed purse on May 7, 2005, will mark the 131st consecutive year in which the classic race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds has been run. The Derby, which was run for the first time in 1875, is America's oldest continuously held sports event.

    Along with the increase in the overall Kentucky Derby purse, there will also be a change in the distribution of that purse. The race will now offer purse money to the race's top five finishers, with 62 percent of the purse going to the winner. Purse money had previously been paid only to the top four finishers.

    The distribution of a $2 million Kentucky Derby purse would include:

    Winner (62%) -- $1.24 million
    Second (20%) -- $400,000
    Third (10%) -- $200,000
    Fourth (5%) -- $100,000
    Fifth (3%) -- $60,000

    "The Kentucky Derby is one of the world's great sports events and our effort to raise its purse to $2 million guaranteed is both a reflection of that status and an effort to solidify the foundation of this great race for many years to come," said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs. "The incredible tradition of the Derby has already made our race a prime objective for horsemen throughout North America and internationally and this purse increase should further enhance the attractiveness of this great race to owners and trainers around the world."

    Churchill Downs will provide a minimum of $1.1 million of the $2 million purse, achieving that in part through a redistribution of money in the track's account for purses for stakes races. Fees to enter and start in the Kentucky Derby will also be raised from $15,000 to $25,000, respectively, for a total of $50,000 that must be paid before each horse can pass through the starting gate in the race. Those fees will become part of the Kentucky Derby purse.

    Approximately $100,000 in purse money for the Derby will come from nomination fees to the Visa Triple Crown Challenge. Those fees remain unchanged in 2005 - but the cost of a supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby will rise. Early nominations, with a fee of $600, are due Jan. 22. Late nominations, with a fee of $6,000, are due by March 26. One third of those nomination fees go to the Kentucky Derby purse.

    Entry and starting fees for the Kentucky Derby were last raised in 1996, when the value of the race's purse rose from $500,000-added to $1 million guaranteed. Each fee was increased that year from $10,000 to $15,000.

    The fee for supplemental nominations will climb from $150,000 to $200,000. Payment of that fee at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby would make a horse eligible for all three races in the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, but all of that supplemental nomination fee would go to the Derby purse.

    Any nomination, entry, starting or supplemental entry fees beyond a level of $900,000 will go to the winner's share of the overall Kentucky Derby purse.

    In order to elevate the Kentucky Derby purse to its record $2 million level, Churchill Downs has reallocated $375,000 in purse money from other stakes events on its schedule - including the placement of one race on hiatus for 2005. The $125,000-added Kentucky Breeders' Cup (GIII) for 2-year-olds will not be run in 2005, but could return to the stakes schedule in the future. A total of $75,000 from the purse of that race - which also included a supplement of $50,000 from the Breeders' Cup Stakes program - will go into the Derby purse.

    Other purse changes in the Churchill Downs stakes program for 2005 will include:

    Fleur De Lis Handicap (GII) - purse drops from $400,000-added to $300,000-added
    Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup (GIII) - purse will stand at $200,000-added, but Churchill Downs contribution will drop to $150,000 and $50,000 will be added from the Breeders' Cup Stakes program
    Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) - purse will drop from $150,000 to $100,000-added
    Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) - purse drops from $150,000 to $100,000-added
    Chilukki Handicap (GII, formerly the Churchill Downs Distaff) - drops from $200,000-added to $150,000-added.

    The entire 2005 stakes schedule for Churchill Downs will be released later this week.

    The increase in the Kentucky Derby purse will have no impact on purses for overnight races in the track's Spring and Fall racing meets. Daily purses at Churchill Downs averaged $471,283 in 2004 and track officials expect those purses to average around $480,000 per day in 2005.

    Leaders of Kentucky's two leading horsemen's organizations, the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association ("HBPA") and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association ("KTA") have given their approval to the reallocation of Churchill Downs' stakes funding.

    Churchill Downs, the world's most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America's greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN) also operates Trackside Louisville, an off-track betting and training facility. Churchill Downs will conduct the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby on May 7, 2005. The track's 2005 Spring Meet will open on April 30. Churchill Downs has served as host to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships a record five times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at

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