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Churchill Downs Inc.

Churchill Downs Inc. news release


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2006) - Recognition as racing's "Handicapper of the Year" and a big cash prize are on the line for 226 handicappers who will gather in Las Vegas next week to compete in the $500,000 Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association ("NTRA") National Handicapping Championship VII, but the stakes are even higher for seven handicappers who qualified for the championship during stops on Churchill Downs Incorporated's ("CDI") Twin Spires Club "Million Dollar Tour."

A victory in Las Vegas would make any of the seven an instant millionaire, as they would earn a $1 million bonus for sweeping both their Twin Spires Club qualifying tournament and the National Handicapping Championship. The bonus, which is sponsored by the Daily Racing Form, would be in addition to the $225,000 top prize awarded to the winner of the championship.

Along with the bonus, the "Million Dollar Tour" qualifier who also wins the National Handicapping Championship will also receive a dazzling trophy created by internationally acclaimed glass artist Ken vonRoenn, Jr., the president of Louisville-based Architectural Glass Art.

The DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is scheduled for Jan. 27-28 at Bally's Las Vegas. The seven "Million Dollar Tour" qualifiers who will enter that competition with an opportunity to grab the $1 million bonus (with the track at which they qualified) are:

  • Dominick Coppla, Hallandale, Fla. (Calder Race Course)
  • James Dennis, Mundelein, Ill. (Arlington Park)
  • Steve Duncan, Evansville, Ind. (Ellis Park)
  • Ross Gallo, Jupiter, Fla. (Calder Race Course)
  • William Gonsoulin, Jr., Harahan, La. (Fair Grounds at Harrah's Louisiana Downs)
  • Richard Grose, St. Charles, Mo. (Churchill Downs)
  • Eric Isaacson, Indianapolis, Ind. (Hoosier Park)

To be eligible for the $1 million bonus, the winners of those "Million Dollar Tour" events were required to be registered members of the Twin Spires Club prior to those tournaments. Membership in the Twin Spires Club is free.

Gonsoulin, 68, is a retired New Orleans firefighter who qualified for the National Handicapping Championship in a tournament during the Fair Grounds at Harrah's Louisiana Downs meet and figures to be a sentimental choice to win. His qualifying win in December - and its $14,000 top prize - was timely as his home suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina. The nearby homes of his five children were completely destroyed by the storm. Gonsoulin finished 162nd in the 2004 National Handicapping Championship.

Calder representative Dominick Coppla, an 87-year-old resident of Hallandale, Fla., will be the oldest handicapper taking part in this year's championship.

"The anticipation surrounding the National Handicapping Championship grows each year and the possibility that one of the 'Million Dollar Tour' winners could become an instant millionaire with a victory will only add to the excitement," said Jeremy Clemons, CDI senior director of marketing. "We wish the best of luck to both our 'Tour' winners who are chasing the $1 million bonus and all of the handicappers bidding for the coveted title of 'Handicapper of the Year'."

The tournament format for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will require players to earn the highest possible bankroll based on 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers on each of the two days of competition. Eight of those wagers will be on mandatory races selected by an NTRA panel and the remaining seven races will be optional plays on races at any of six designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Bay Meadows, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita.

The distinctive trophy that will go to the handicapper that completes the "Million Dollar Tour"/National Handicapping Championship sweep is 26 inches tall and measures 14 inches at its widest point. The creation by vonRoenn, who also designed the glass sculpture "Aspiring" that is displayed in the atrium of Gate 17 in the remodeled Churchill Downs clubhouse, features a flame-worked glass sculpture of a Thoroughbred and rider that rests on a base made of dichroic glass, which reflects a broad spectrum of colors. The same special glass was used for CDI's "Twin Spires" logo featured at the top of the trophy. Mark Payton, a resident artist at Louisville's Glassworks, fashioned the flame-work horse and jockey that rest atop the trophy.

The Twin Spires Club is the customer-reward program of Churchill Downs Incorporated. More than 250,000 members earn points and benefits each time they wager at participating locations, including Arlington Park; Calder Race Course; Churchill Downs; Ellis Park; Fair Grounds Race Course; Hoosier Park; Trackside Off-Track Betting locations in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky; and Finish Line Off-Track Betting sites in Louisiana. For more information, visit

Churchill Downs Incorporated, ("CDI") headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates world-renowned horse racing venues throughout the United States. CDI's six racetracks in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisiana host many of North America's most prestigious races, including the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, Arlington Million and Louisiana Derby. CDI racetracks have hosted six Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. CDI also owns off-track betting facilities and has interests in various television production, telecommunications and racing services companies that support CDI's network of simulcasting and racing operations. CDI trades on the NASDAQ National Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found on the Internet at




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