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Jan 10, 2014

Up the Backstretch: That's one big video screen

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - It's big, really big. The new video board going up at Churchill Downs is so big that three of the five Christmas Day NBA games could be played on it at the same time.

Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby, is constructing the enormous video board on the backstretch of the historic track so that, apparently, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station can view the 140th Run for the Roses through a window or during a space walk.

"We are thrilled to announce that the world's largest 4K video board will have a home at Churchill Downs and, the fact that it will have 4K resolution truly solidifies our claim to fame as being known as the best venue for thoroughbred racing in the world," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "We are eager to debut this new video board to fans and believe they will be truly excited about the clarity in which races will be broadcast."

Now, I have no idea what 4K resolution actually means, but it probably has something to do with minimum pools for each of the exotic bets that Churchill Downs will be offering during the upcoming spring/summer meet that the Kentucky Derby highlights.

"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Churchill Downs to bring true 21st Century video technology to the 140th Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously conducted sporting event in the country," Richard Ballard, vice president of sales and marketing for Panasonic Eco Solutions North America, said back in October when the video board installation was first announced.

As you can see, everybody involved with the new gizmo is thrilled the 171-foot- wide-by-90-foot-tall video board is being constructed in Louisville.

It's thrilling just to write about the $12 million video board.

The installation is expected to be completed by mid-March, more than a month before opening day at Churchill on Saturday, April 26. The screen will debut that evening offering a 170-degree viewing angle for anyone situated in the clubhouse and grandstand seats, and infield under the Twin Spires.

"We're very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Churchill Downs and deliver a 15,224-square foot board to an icon of the sports world," said Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. "4K content is truly the wave of the future and we are excited to bring avid racing fans this technology that gives them the ability to view content on a big screen as if they were up close and personal with the racetrack."

Now, will anybody actually watch the races at Churchill without looking at the video board? At many tracks, even as live racing goes on right in front of the grandstand, people have gotten into the habit of watching races on the televisions that are spread throughout the facilities.

No really, congratulations to Churchill Downs on its new video board. May it offer many years of enjoyment to all and relieve the crowding in the paddock.

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