Churchill Downs plans $10 million upgrade to turf course

What’s around the bend for Churchill Downs? An upgraded turf course is coming in 2022.

The Louisville-area race track announced a $10 million upgrade to its running surface to widen it and increase durability. Construction will begin following the 2021 Spring Meet. The course will debut at the start of the 2022 Spring Meet – or sooner depending on growing conditions.

The current Matt Winn Turf Course inside the one-mile dirt track was first used 35 years ago in 1985. The new turf course will have a similar grass blend but what’s below will be much better with upgrades below the grass to facilitate drainage and expand capacity.

The new course will allow Churchill Downs to have as many as 14 horses in each turf race with multiple rail movement options and four racing lanes ranging from 0 to 36 feet out.

No turf racing will take place during the 2021 September Meet while changes are underway. New grass must grow deep roots for long-term success. In recent years, about 25% of races at the historic race track ran on turf. Often, turf races are moved to dirt during inclement weather or suboptimal conditions when the turf is wet.

— Rachel Nix

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