Churchill Downs

The famous twin spires of Churchill Downs' Louisville racetrack at 700 Central Avenue. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Delaying the Kentucky Derby, closing casinos and other COVID-19 measures hammered Churchill Downs’ finances in the April-June quarter, with the Louisville-based company’s net revenue plunging 61%, to $185.1 million.

Churchill Downs reported a net loss of $118 million in the quarter, but much of that had to do with the one-time settlement of class-action lawsuits related to its former subsidiary Big Fish Games, which cost the company $124 million ($95 million after taxes).

Through furloughs and pay cuts, including for top executives, the company managed to cut its operating expenses roughly in line with its revenue, spending only $185 million on operations compared to $321 million in the same period in 2019.

Salaries for non-furloughed employees will return to normal next week, the company said. 

Moving the Derby to September 5 cost Churchill Downs about $149 million in Derby week revenue that would normally come in during the second quarter.

How much of that is realized in September remains to be seen, as the company plans to run the Kentucky Oaks and Derby races with “limited spectators.”

“Our teams have been excited to welcome our guests back to our properties with enhanced safety and social distancing protocols,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a news release.  “Our team is looking forward to a safe and successful 146th Kentucky Derby on September 5th when we can come together to celebrate this time-honored great American tradition.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.