Churchill Downs, Japan Racing Association Partner to Create ‘Japan Road to The Kentucky Derby’

Two Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse Will Give One Horse Opportunity to Compete in ‘America’s Greatest Race’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Monday, Sept. 12, 2016) – Fresh off Japanese-based Lani’s run in this year’s Triple Crown that culminated with a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) has partnered with the Japan Racing Association (“JRA”) to create a series of races in Japan that could annually produce a starter in the Kentucky Derby.

The new “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” – which is separate from the 35-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series – includes two one-mile dirt stakes races at the famed Tokyo Racecourse: the Cattleya Sho for 2-year-olds on Nov. 26 and the Hyacinth for 3-year-olds to be run in early 2017 (note: the JRA is scheduled to announce their stakes schedule in October).

A position in the starting gate for the 143rd running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 6, 2017 will be awarded to the horse that accrues the most points in the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” and accepts an invitation to compete.

Points awarded to the Top 4 finishing positions in the Cattleya Sho will be 40-16-8-4, respectively, while the Hyacinth will carry a point value of 50-20-10-5. The points were structured to avoid an automatic qualifier for the winner of one particular race over the other.

“All of us at Churchill Downs are thrilled to partner with the Japan Racing Association to create this exciting new series to provide an entry in the Kentucky Derby for a horse from Japan,” CDI’s President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Mudd said. “Horse racing in Japan is a tremendously popular sport. The competition is world-class and features some of the most accomplished runners in the world. This series provides a path for the top 3-year-old in the country to participate in the ‘greatest two minutes in sports.’ We saw sizeable international interest through Lani’s participation in this year’s Triple Crown and we’re thrilled that, through this partnership, we can add to the worldwide popularity of the Kentucky Derby.”

“I am very pleased to be able to launch the ‘Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby’ in partnership with Churchill Downs Incorporated,” said Mr. Masayuki Goto, President and CEO of the Japan Racing Association. “This year, Lani earned a spot to start by winning the UAE Derby in Dubai, but beginning next year, Japanese horses aiming to run in the Kentucky Derby can run in designated races in the series at home in Japan to be awarded points to get this ticket to the starting gate. It is with great pride that ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ will reach Japanese racing fans and it is my earnest wish to sing it with a traditional Mint Julep in my hand, together with Japanese horsemen and all the many fans next year at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

Lani, a gray Kentucky-bred Tapit colt owned by Koji Maeda, trained by Mikio Matsunaga and ridden by legendary Yutaka Taki, was only the second horse based in Japan to compete in the Kentucky Derby after winning the UAE Derby at Meydan Racecouse in Dubai. The first was Ski Captain, who finished 14th in 1995. Lani also was just the ninth Kentucky Derby starter that raced exclusively outside of North American prior to his “Run for the Roses.”

Lani scored a two-length victory in last year’s Cattleya Sho. Gold Dream (JPN) was victorious in this year’s Hyacinth, while Lani finished fifth.

This is the fifth consecutive year that Churchill Downs Racetrack will use a sliding scale of points awarded to the Top 4 finishers in choice races to determine preference for its 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. At least 20 horses have entered the 1 ¼-mile classic for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds every year since 2004, and 16 of the last 18 years.

As was the case for the past three years, the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series will commence at the home of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Sept. 17 with Churchill Downs’ $150,000 Iroquois (GIII) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

About Churchill Downs Incorporated

Churchill Downs Incorporated is an industry-leading racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event – The Kentucky Derby. We own and operate Derby City Gaming, a historical racing machine facility in Louisville, Kentucky. We also own and operate the largest online horse racing wagering platform in the U.S.,, and we operate sports betting and iGaming through our BetAmerica platform in multiple states. We are also a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with approximately 11,000 slot machines and video lottery terminals and 200 table games in eight states. Additional information about CDI can be found online at

Information set forth in this news release contains various “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Act”), which provides certain “safe harbor” provisions. All forward-looking statements made in this news release are made pursuant to the Act. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” and similar words, although some forward-looking statements are expressed differently.

Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include the following: the effect of economic conditions on our consumers’ confidence and discretionary spending or our access to credit; additional or increased taxes and fees; public perceptions or lack of confidence in the integrity of our business or any deterioration in our reputation; loss of key or highly skilled personnel; restrictions in our debt facilities limiting our flexibility to operate our business; general risks related to real estate ownership, including fluctuations in market values and environmental regulations; catastrophic events and system failures disrupting our operations; online security risk, including cyber-security breaches; inability to recover under our insurance policies for damages sustained at our properties in the event of inclement weather and casualty events; increases in insurance costs and inability to obtain similar insurance coverage in the future; inability to identify and complete acquisition, expansion or divestiture projects, on time, on budget or as planned; difficulty in integrating recent or future acquisitions into our operations; costs and uncertainties relating to the development of new venues and expansion of existing facilities; risks associated with equity investments, strategic alliances and other third-party agreements; inability to respond to rapid technological changes in a timely manner; inadvertent infringement of the intellectual property of others; inability to protect our own intellectual property rights; payment-related risks, such as risk associated with fraudulent credit card and debit card use; compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or applicable money-laundering regulations; risks related to pending or future legal proceedings and other actions; inability to negotiate agreements with industry constituents, including horsemen and other racetracks; work stoppages and labor issues; changes in consumer preferences with respect to Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Kentucky Derby; personal injury litigation related to injuries occurring at our racetracks; weather and other conditions affecting our ability to conduct live racing; the occurrence of extraordinary events, such as terrorist attacks and public health threats, including the ongoing impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 virus); changes in the regulatory environment of our racing operations; increased competition in the horseracing business; difficulty in attracting a sufficient number of horses and trainers for full field horseraces; our inability to utilize and provide totalizator services; changes in regulatory environment of our online horseracing business; number of people wagering on live horse races; increase in competition in our online horseracing; uncertainty and changes in the legal landscape relating to our online wagering business; continued legalization of online sports betting and iGaming in the United States and our ability to predict and capitalize on any such legalization; inability to expand our sports betting operations and effectively compete; failure to manage risks associated with sports betting; failure to comply with laws requiring us to block access to certain individuals could result in penalties or impairment with respect to our mobile and online wagering products; increased competition in our casino business; changes in regulatory environment of our casino business; and concentration and evolution of slot machine manufacturing and other technology conditions that could impose additional costs; and inability to collect gaming receivables from the customers to whom we extend credit.