Churchill to host 12 stakes worth record $3.775M during September meet

A Churchill Downs press release (Coady Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Monday, Aug. 21, 2023) – A dozen stakes cumulatively worth a record $3,775,000 will be offered during the 14-day September Meet at Churchill Downs, which runs Sept. 14-Oct. 1 (pending Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund final approval).

          The 11th annual September Meet, which runs for three weeks, will offer horsemen plenty of opportunities to prep for the Nov. 3-4 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita, led by the $500,000 Lukas Classic (Grade II) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles and the $400,000 Ack Ack (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at one mile – a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the Dirt Mile – on Saturday, Sept. 30. 

          Additionally, the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks series will kick-off Saturday, Sept. 16 with the $300,000 Iroquois (GIII) and $300,000 Pocahontas (GIII), respectively. Both races for 2-year-olds have been shortened by a half-furlong to the one turn, one-mile distance.

          The Ack Ack, boosted by $100,000, is one of six stakes events that received a purse increase. The Louisville Thoroughbred Society, Bourbon Trail, Harrods Creek and Dogwood were each increased by $25,000 to be valued at $300,000 apiece. The Seneca Overnight Stakes received a $15,000 bump to $175,000.

          Additionally, the $200,000 Jefferson Cup for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf has returned to the September Meet stakes lineup following a three-year hiatus.  

The condition book of scheduled races for the September Meet features 135 races and a record $15,133,000 in prize money for a daily average of $1,080,929. Maiden special weight races have a $120,000 purse while allowance races range from $127,000 to $141,000. All purses, including claiming races, include prize money from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

Tickets for the September Meet are on sale at Event highlights include:

·        Twilight Thursdays featuring $2 select domestic beer, live music and food trucks (Thursdays, Sept. 14, Sept. 21 and Sept. 28).

·        Road to the 150th Kentucky Derby and 150th Kentucky Oaks Kickoff (Saturday, Sept. 16)

·        Stakes Room Brunch (Sundays, Sept. 17 and Sept. 24)

·        Downs After Dark: Bourbon & Boots (Saturday, Sept. 23)

·        Family Adventure Day (Sunday, Oct. 1)

Churchill Downs’ 14-day meet will be staged over three weeks from Thursday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 1 with racing on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Outside of the three Twilight Thursdays (5 p.m. ET) and the lone Downs After Dark on Sept. 23 (6 p.m. ET), the first race for all other race days will be 12:45 p.m. ET. Nine races are scheduled on Wednesdays, eight races are scheduled on Thursdays with 10-race programs on Fridays and Sundays. Eleven races will be showcased each Saturday.

The most lucrative day of the meet will be Road to the 150th Kentucky Derby and 150th Kentucky Oaks Kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 16 with prize money totaling $2.159 million. Five of the 11 races are stakes races.

          Construction on the new Paddock at Churchill Downs continues. As was the case during the Spring Meet, a temporary saddling paddock adjacent to the First Turn Grandstand will be utilized for the remainder of the year. 


Saturday, Sept. 1639thIII$400,000Locust Grove3&up, f&m1 1/16 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 1642ndIII$300,000Iroquois2yo1 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 1655thIII$300,000Pocahontas2yo f1 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 1614thListed$300,000Open Mind3&up, f&m6 FDirt
Saturday, Sept. 163rd $300,000Louisville Thoroughbred Society3&up6 FDirt
Saturday, Sept. 2348thIII$300,000Dogwood3yo f7 FDirt
Saturday, Sept. 233rd  $300,000Bourbon Trail3yo1 3/16 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 233rd  $300,000Harrods Creek3yo7 FDirt
Saturday, Sept. 233rd  $175,000Seneca Overnight Stakes3yo f1 1/16 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 3010thII$500,000Lukas Classic3&up1 1/8 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 3031st III$400,000Ack Ack3&up1 MDirt
Saturday, Sept. 3043rd $200,000Jefferson Cup3yo1 MTurf

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.