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Did Churchill Downs Inc. Strike Again?

Disclaimer: I have no idea if what is being “reported” on Racing Twitter today with regard to CDI putting a stop to DraftKings’ Kentucky Derby future wager is true.  But I am going to comment anyway.

According to an article on vsin.com, Churchill Downs Inc. has launched some sort of legal objection to DraftKings offering a Kentucky Derby future wager, and that objection has resulted in DraftKings putting a stop to the wager.  If this is true (and for the moment, that’s a big “if”) it’s a move that literally every person who has followed horse racing for the last 20 years should have seen coming.  But that doesn’t make it any less sad.

CDI is a publicly traded company.  They have profits and shareholders to protect.  I get that.  And from a legal standpoint, it is highly probable that CDI has a fiduciary responsibility to do everything it can to bring the DraftKings bet to a halt.  That said, I find it annoying that 20 years after the debut of Churchill’s own future wager, bettors still have to either fly to Vegas to get fair odds on a Derby prospect they like, or they have to accept the deflated pari-mutuel odds offered by the Mickey Mouse Churchill wager.

Seriously, if you had told me in 1999 that in 2019, Churchill Downs would still not have found a way to offer more than 23 individual horses, I would have laughed and said “No organization as big as CDI can be that inept.”  But I would have been wrong.  Churchill’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager routinely handles an amount less than the exacta pool in an eight-horse field at Aqueduct on a Sunday.  And CDI’s total non-effort to make this wager more attractive has been truly pathetic.  I’m not saying this as someone who wasn’t brought back to blog for the official Kentucky Derby website in 2010 after generating a ton of traffic for that site for three years.  I am saying this as someone who has a brain and who likes to bet.  If I worked for CDI in any official capacity that had to do with making dollars flow through the windows, I’d be fucking embarrassed not only by this action, but by the lack of innovation around the existing CD Future Wager.

As for this specific (alleged) decision by CDI to stop the DraftKings thing, I guess I don’t have much real insight to add.  If we are talking about CDI being worried the DraftKings bet would hurt their own Future Wager handle, then I’d say they have about 673 more important things to worry about that are worth more money.  Even if the DraftKings bet completely drove the CDI wager handle down to $0, so what?  The legal fees associated with this action probably cost more than they made on that patheticly-run bet in the first place.

CDI should forget about making an issue of this and just let people bet the way they want.  Sometimes getting your hands on every dollar you can hurts you in the long run.  This may be one of those times.  But if recent history is any guide, Churchill Downs doesn’t care.

All of a sudden, that Santa Anita roulette wager doesn’t seem so dumb.  At least TSG is getting off the couch.

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