Ron Winchell, the co-owner of The Mint Gaming Hall at Kentucky Downs and who campaigns Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up Midnight Bourbon, said he’s trying to keep his enthusiasm in check about their chances in Saturday’s 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico. “I’ve got people calling me, ‘I really like your horse,’” he said, adding with a laugh, “It’s like, ‘No. Stop it! Stop it!’”
Kentucky Downs will offer almost $15 million in purses at its six-date all-turf meet in early September. Horsemen can view all the scheduled races in the condition book now posted on Kentucky Downs' page on Equibase.com. Two of those races, the $1 million Calumet Farm Turf Cup (G2) and $1 million Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), will be televised live on NBC Sports Network on Sept. 11 as part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, presented by America’s Best Racing” television schedule for the run-up to horse racing’s world championships Nov. 5-6 at Del Mar in California.
Kentucky Downs has been awarded its second Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series stakes for the 2021 race meet in early September. For the first time, the $1 million Calumet Turf Cup (G2) will be a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), joining the $1 million Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) that two years ago became an automatic qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). “There already were a million reasons for owners and trainers to send their turf sprinter or distance grass horse to Kentucky Downs," said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs' Vice President for Racing. "Now there’s even more incentive."
Donegal Racing's well-traveled Grade 1-winner Arklow - who won Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Turf Cup for the second time in three years -- was honored Wednesday for his exploits right at home as the 6-year-old horse was feted as the 2020 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund’s Earner of the Year. “We’re very excited about this award for Arklow. It’s very cool,” said Jerry Crawford, founder and president of the Des Moines-based Donegal Racing partnership. “This business is so, so hard for owners. When you get a horse that can pay some feed bills, it’s gratifying in multiple ways to say nothing of all the excitement it creates."
For the first time in its 31-year history, Kentucky Downs is offering three $1 million races during its six-date 2021 meet. Added to the track’s signature Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup, whose purse was first raised to seven figures in 2019, Kentucky Downs’ $1 million trio also will feature the Grade 3 Turf Sprint and Grade 3 WinStar Mint Million.
Trainer Mike Maker continued his domination of the $150,000, Grade 3 W.L. McKnight at Gulfstream Park Saturday, winning for the fourth time in five years with the 1-2 finish of Tide of the Sea and Temple.
Our The Mint Gaming Hall/Kentucky Downs Year in Review is out! Click here to read all about our star-crossed year that was 2020
Kentucky Downs will stage not only its first Grade 2 stakes in track history in 2021 but its second. The $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles and the $500,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters both were elevated from Grade 3 to Grade 2 status for the upcoming year. In addition, the $750,000 Tourist Mile earned Grade 3 stature for the first time. “This is huge for us,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Vice President for Racing. “Getting the Calumet Farm to a Grade 2 has been a top priority.... With the graded-stakes committee taking a hard line on adding or promoting races, we are very proud of what our racing program has accomplished."
Kentucky Downs recently completed the first major renovation of its turf course since the track was laid out in a field as a steeplechase course in 1990. The project involved nearly half of the 1 5/16-mile kidney-shaped course, with a swath five-eighths of a mile long and 63-feet wide around the spacious far turn and into the stretch replaced with sod featuring a blend of 90 percent Kentucky 31 fescue and 10 percent Kentucky bluegrass.
The class of the field ran like it Friday at Del Mar as two-time Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup winner Arklow tracked close to the leaders in the 12-furlong Hollywood Turf Cup, then got the jump on his chief rivals turning for home and went on to an impressive half-length score in the $203,500, Grade 2 headliner.
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old filly Finite, whose first career victory came last year at Kentucky Downs, resumed her winning ways by beating older fillies and mares to take Saturday’s 35th running of Churchill Downs’ $100,000 Chilukki (Grade 3) by 2 ½ lengths over Sanenus. It was her fifth stakes triumph.
Arklow’s connections say he’s a different horse since blinkers were added for the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 12, which proved his second triumph in Kentucky Downs’ signature race in three years. Saying he’s different is saying something, given that Donegal Racing’s 6-year-old Arklow had earned almost $2 million in 28 races without blinkers, including victory in New York’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last year. Now he'll try to win the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on his third attempt.
Kentucky Downs only races six days, but the all-grass track has super-sized representation in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this Friday and Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
A total of 15 horses who raced at Kentucky Downs’ meet in early September are in the body of the seven Breeders’ Cup turf races, with three grass events for 2-year-olds on Friday and four for 3-year-olds and older horses on Saturday. Three other runners at the 2020 meet are in Breeders' Cup dirt races.
Kentucky Downs' 2021 race meet will again feature six days while racing both the Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend for the first time. Kentucky Downs' all-grass meet was awarded dates of Sept. 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12 for next year.
With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships less than a month away, horses coming out of races at Kentucky Downs were in the spotlight the past two weekends while taking prep races at Breeders’ Cup host site Keeneland, Belmont Park and Pimlico. Kentucky Downs’ racing program produced its two latest Grade 1 winners with Harvey’s Lil Goil taking Keeneland’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup this past Saturday, a week after Ivar captured Keeneland’s $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. Harvey’s Lil Goil, with Martin Garcia riding for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, turned the tables on Micheline in the QEII, reversing the 1-2 finish in Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks.
Kentucky Downs horses had a huge afternoon at Pimlico and Keeneland, including Tourist Mile third-place finisher Ivar winning Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile. We have stakes recaps.
Andy Muhlada calls himself a “weekend warrior” when it comes to horse-racing handicapping tournaments. But the 53-year-old from Lawrenceburg, Ind., proved a weekday wonder when it came to the inaugural Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Muhlada earned the track’s title of National Turf Handicapping Champion with a final combined bankroll of $9,211 for the two, separate live-money tournaments. "I stamped myself that I belong with these guys," he said. "That’s how I feel now.”
Even before Saffie Joseph won Wednesday’s eighth race with Sugar Fix on closing day of the record-breaking RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, the trainer’s thoughts had turned to next year. “First meet here. I love it,” said Joseph, one of America’s fast-rising trainers who this summer expanded his East Coast base to include Kentucky. “It’s a cool setting, different from what you’re used to seeing in America. It’s kind of like a European track. I’m coming back every year. As long as we have the owners providing the horses, we hope to make this an important part of our year.”
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione and owner Three Diamonds Farm earned their first meet titles at Kentucky Downs, with Mike Maker — who trains for Three Diamonds and frequently uses Gaffalione — winning a record fifth crown at America’s most unique race meet. Wagering on the final day of the six-date meet totaled $9,487,705 on the 10-race card. That brought totaling wagering over the meet’s 62 races (with another race ruled a no-contest) to $59,828,444, smashing last year’s record $41,239,699 over 50 races and five days.
Tyler Gaffalione put an exclamation mark on his first riding title at Kentucky Downs, completing a three-win day as Qatar Racing’s French-bred 9-1 shot Guildsman came from far back to beat longshot dead-heat runners-up Island Commish (21-1) and Souper Dormy by a neck in the $500,000, Grade 3 Franklin-Simpson Stakes. "It certainly made Sheikh Fahad a big fan of Kentucky Downs," said Sheikh Fahad's representative Fergus Galvin after Qatar Racing won the stakes for the second year in a row. "He’s already wanting to stock up the stable to point to the meeting next year.”
Robert Swickard, a retired firefighter from Commerce Township, Mich., captured the first of two stand-alone live-money tournaments that form the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form with a bankroll of $7,502.80. Swickard not only earned a profit of just over $7,000 from his starting $500 bankroll, he picked up first-place prize money of $10,000 and a seat in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, worth another $10,000. His lead also makes him today’s early pacesetter for the overall title of National Turf Handicapping Champion, who will earn an additional $15,000 in prize money and a seat in the BCBC.
There are a Finite number of ways to handicap Tuesday's inaugural $400,000 Music City Stakes. See how Ellis Starr, national racing analyst for Equibase, views the stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
With Kimari running against the girls Tuesday, see who Ellis Starr likes in Wednesday's closing-Day Franklin-Simpson Stakes.
Kentucky Downs moved its Sunday card to Tuesday after heavy rain pelted the area over the weekend. All the same, horseplayers responded enthusiastically with a total of $8,950,973 wagered on the 11-race card, fifth-highest in track history. The card was highlighted by three stakes for fillies and mares.
Donegal Racing founder Jerry Crawford considered Zulu Alpha the top distance turf horse in at least America heading into last Saturday’s $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup. After Donegal's Arklow upset his old rival to win the Grade 3, 1 1/2-mile stakes for the second time in the three years, Crawford slightly amended his assessment. “We have nothing but respect for Zulu Alpha,” Crawford said of the 2019 Kentucky Turf Cup winner to whom Arklow was second in last year’s running of the track’s richest race. “He was the best mile-and-a-half turf horse in the world coming into the Kentucky Turf Cup. But if you beat the best, then you’re in the conversation.”
Where Zulu Alpha had gotten the best of his rival in last year’s edition of the Grade 3, $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, trading blows had been the name of the game for the two warriors in their nine meetings prior to Saturday. So after losing Kentucky Downs bragging rights with a second in 2019, Arklow fittingly turned the tables on his old foe when he captured the 1 ½-miles Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths over Red Knight, with Zulu Alpha a late-running third.
With two wins from three starters on opening day and another four horses entered this weekend, Chad Brown – America’s champion turf trainer for eight consecutive years – has made a connection this season with Kentucky Downs, the one track in the U.S.A. that runs all its races on grass. His team pounced on Monday’s opening card and collected total of $500,400 with a victory by Juddmonte Farm’s Flavius in the $750,000 Tourist Mile Stakes and Head of Plains Partners’ Fluffy Socks in a $90,000 maiden special weight race. He's also well-stocked for the meet's remaining stakes.
One thing trainer Mark Casse has had on wish list for his charge Got Stormy in 2020 was for the 5-year-old mare to finally get the foot-rattling ground she has done her best running over. So when rain began soaking the Franklin, Ky track over the course of Saturday afternoon, turning its course conditions to soft in the process, one could forgive the Hall of Fame conditioner if he started to get a twist of dread in his stomach heading into the Grade 3 Real Solution Ladies Sprint Stakes. But the multiple Grade 1-winning daughter of Get Stormy exploded down the lane to take the $500,000 Ladies Sprint Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths, ending a five-race losing skid and earning her first victory of 2020.
One year after getting beat as the favorite in the Grade 3, $700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes, Imprimis rewarded those who retained the faith in him on Saturday as the Broken Vow gelding got up by a neck over dead-heat runners-up Front Run the Fed and Bombard to capture the 2020 edition of the race at Kentucky Downs. "I expected this effort," said trainer Joe Orseno. " But this was a tough race. There were some quality horses in there. I mean, the Breeders’ Cup won’t be any tougher. We’re very happy where we have him right now.”
Not only did trainer Wesley Ward continue his domination of the $500,000 Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint Saturday, he saddled the exacta finish, Outadore and Fauci. Ward won the first two editions of the 6 ½-furlong race, beating males with fillies, Moonlight Romance in 2018 and Cambria last year. With Kentucky Downs now offering a sprint stake for juvenile fillies, Ward turned to his colts and they delivered for him. Breeze Easy’s Outadore stayed perfect in his second career start with a 1¾ lengths victory under Irad Ortiz, Jr. in 1:17.31. Fauci and jockey Tyler Gaffalione were 3 ¼ lengths ahead of the third-place horse, Cowan.
For the first time in his future Hall of Fame career, trainer Chad Brown has made it a point to have a significant presence at the boutique Kentucky Downs meet. As is often the case when the Mechanicville, NY native shows up on the scene, he sent out one of his turf distaffers to claim some lucrative spoils as Regal Glory reeled in pacesetter Mitchell Road in deep stretch to take the Grade 3, $500,000 English Channel Ladies Turf Stakes by a neck on Saturday.
Kentucky Downs announced that because of Saturday’s rain and expectations of more inclement weather that Sunday’s 11-race card is being moved to Tuesday. The meet then will conclude with Wednesday’s scheduled card. “With the steady rain that we had from the fifth race on and the projected forecast for rain overnight and tomorrow, we felt it the prudent thing to do safety-wise for both horses and riders,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. In addition, the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge’s first live-money tournament scheduled for Sunday now will be on Tuesday’s card. Wednesday’s handicapping tournament will go on as scheduled that day.
Chris Larmey knows a good handicapping tournament when he sees one, and that's why he will be playing in the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form on Sunday Sept. 13 and Wednesday Sept. 16. Larmey is a 14-time qualifier for the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), chairman of the NHC Players’ Committee and in the NHC Hall of Fame. “To me, it’s got everything you’d like in a handicapping contest," Larmey said.
Few enjoyed Kentucky Downs' hospitality last year as much as trainer Rusty Arnold and his hard-knocking charge, Totally Boss. This Saturday, the two will once again aim to take in all the spoils Kentucky Downs has to offer when Totally Boss sets out to defend his title in the Grade 3, $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint Stakes. Arnold, who won a pair of stakes at the meet last year, also has English Affair cross-entered in Saturday's $500,000 English Channel Ladies Turf and Sunday's TVG Stakes. The Turf Sprint Stakes is one of five stakes, four of them enjoying Grade 3 status, on Saturday's Calumet Farm Day card with the headliner being the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
Trainer Wesley Ward had this to say the morning after he won three races Wednesday to take the training lead at Kentucky Downs through the second day of the six-date meet: “Tell ’em now we’re getting serious.” Ward, who last year tied for the Kentucky Downs training title with four wins, was laughing but apparently not kidding. He went out to win two more races Thursday, putting him at meet-leading five halfway through the meet. The four-time Kentucky Downs training champ has seven horses left to run in stakes and 15 horses overall entered for the remaining three days.
Godolphin’s Micheline, sent off at 10-1, ran down favored Harvey's Lil Goil in the final strides to win the $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks by a neck. “It’s been a journey with her, and it’s been well worth it,” said trainer Michael Stidham.
Moon Over Miami, who needed a scratch the morning of the race to make it into the race, engaged front-runner Big Dreaming in mid-stretch and powered home to win Thursday’s 1 5/16-mile, $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby by a half-length under Javier Castellano at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. “We sort of took a shot sending him down, hoping that well, maybe, hoping in time, somebody would scratch,” said Kenny McCarthy, who oversees trainer Bill Mott's Churchill Downs division. “They said we could stay in until 10 a.m. So we just sent him down with our fingers crossed. It doesn’t often work out like that. We got a little bit of racing luck in every which way.”
MyRacehorse.com, which sells micro-shares in racehorses for just a few hundred dollars for each piece, is still flying high after their horse Authentic won last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby — and while carrying their black silks with the white horse-head emblem. Five days later, the unique partnership business will try to win the another big-money 3-year-old race: This time with the California-based filly Carpe Vinum in Thursday’s $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
he fields are set for America’s biggest day of turf racing this year outside the Breeders’ Cup, with a sensational stakes quintet on tap Saturday at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Each stakes on the Calumet Farm Day program is worth at least $500,000, with the four Grade 3 stakes highlighted by the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles. The other graded stakes are the $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint at six furlongs, whose winner will receive a fees-paid spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 7 at Keeneland as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series’ “Win and You’re In” program, along with the $500,000 English Channel Ladies Turf at a mile, the $500,000 Real Solution Ladies Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs and the $500,000 Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs.
How is Ellis Starr betting Saturday's marquee $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup? Read on!
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 4-year-old Ramsey Solution won Wednesday’s $300,000 Tapit Stakes by a length over Midnight Tea Time in the gelding’s first attempt in a stakes. It capped a huge day for trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Gerardo Corrales, who combined to win three races: the second (Infinite), third (Royal Approval) and then the stakes.
See who Ellis Starr likes in Thursday's $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks.
See who Ellis Starr, national racing analyst for Equibase, likes in Wednesday's Tapit Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
Louisville-based Skychai Racing is hoping to knock it out of the park when they send out Jolting Joe in Thursday’s $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs. “When you look at him compared to the rest of the field, you have to say he’s probably faced the toughest competition of anybody,” says Dr. Harvey Diamond, head of Skychai. “I don’t think he’ll stay 15-1. But if he stays that price, he’s certainly going to be a good bet."
Kentucky Downs (and TVG) paddock analyst Caton Bredar's picks for our opening card on WinStar Farm Day.
Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Flavius surged to the lead at midstretch and held off a late charge from defending champion Snapper Sinclair by three-quarters of a length to win the 23rd running of the $645,700 Tourist Mile to cap the WinStar Farm opening-day program of the six-day RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Trainer Christophe Clemente won the $500,000 The Mint Juvenile Fillies for the third time as Plum Ali rolls through the stretch, jockey Tyler Baze earned his first Kentucky Downs win in style as Barrister Tom pays $90 to take the $500,000 Look for the Star Juvenile and German-bred Dalika puts it all together in the One Dreamer on opening day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Ellis Starr, national racing analyst for Equibase, handicaps the fourth race on the Sept. 7 opening card for the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. See who Ellis likes!
Gary Barber’s 5-year-old mare Got Stormy, one of America’s premier turf milers of either sex, will try something at Kentucky Downs for the first time in a career that to date has spanned 23 starts, eight victories and $1.6 million in earnings. Trainer Mark Casse said that Got Stormy, seeking her first in in 2020, will run in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint on Sept. 12 at 6 1/2 furlongs. It will be the first time she has sprinted. In fact, the only time Got Stormy has raced at shorter than a mile was her debut as 2-year-old in a 7 1/2-furlong race, which at Gulfstream Park is staged around two turns. This and more in today's Kentucky Downs media notes!
Kentucky Downs can’t guarantee those betting its races will pick winners at the upcoming meet, but the all-grass track does help horseplayers make more money when they do cash tickets. With the number of starters per race averaging about an America-leading 11 horses combined with low takeout rates, Kentucky Downs offers one of the best betting products in the country. Though Kentucky Downs qualifies for a higher takeout rate under state regulations, which set a cap that is based on average daily on-track wagering on live racing, the track chooses to stay at a significantly lower rate for all its betting pools.
Trainer Mike Maker told his barn crew to enjoy an easy day Monday when the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs kicks off its six-date run featuring exclusively grass racing. “I said to the guys at the barn, ‘You guys can have a light opening day and then after that we’ll pick it up a little bit,” Maker, Kentucky Downs’ all-time winningest trainer, said cheerfully. “We entered nine the first day, and we have 15 to 20 every other day.”
Owners racing horses at Kentucky Downs compete for some of the most lucrative purses in the world, and the track is encouraging horsemen to contribute a piece of their winnings to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Kentucky Downs is enabling owners to donate to Grayson and/or the PDJF by designating a percentage of purse money won or a flat fee per starter. Owners can direct the horsemen’s bookkeeper to allocate funds from their accounts to Grayson or the PDJF through InCompass Solutions’ Track Manager system, with paper forms in the racing office also available for owners to fill out. Kentucky Downs is kicking off donations with a lead gift of $2,500 to each organization.
Grade 1 winners Zulu Alpha and Arklow, the past two winners of the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, are among the 53 horses nominated to Kentucky Downs’ signature stakes at 1 1/2 miles. Both horses are scheduled to run in the Grade 3 race that ranks among America's richest stakes on grass.
California-based trainer Richard Mandella expects to run horses at Kentucky Downs for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, nominating 10 different horses to a variety of stakes at the upcoming six-date meet offering some of the most lucrative purses in the world. “Things just haven’t worked out timing-wise before, but I’ve always been anxious to go and see how it works,” Mandella said recently.
Averaging $2 million a day in purses, Kentucky Downs is luring the most accomplished riders from New York and California along with the already deep Kentucky colony. Nine of America’s top 10 riders by 2020 purse earnings will be at the meet. “We already had one of the most talented riding colonies in the world, but this year it’s going to be absolutely incredible,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
The Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form, America's only tournament using exclusively grass racing, will award multiple seats at the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) and the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) during stand-alone tournaments on Sunday Sept. 13 and Wednesday Sept. 16. The twist is that the player with the highest aggregate two-day total will be crowned the National Turf Handicapping Champion, receiving additional prize money and a BCBC spot, worth $10,000.
Kentucky Downs will conduct racing without spectators at the track’s upcoming meet, a change necessitated by the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region. Ticket purchases through Kentucky Downs on-line box office will be refunded. “With the surge in cases in Kentucky and Tennessee, we feel it’s in our guests’ best interest and the state’s best interest to not have spectators,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Senior Vice President and General Manager. “No one is more disappointed than us to have to make this difficult call. " The track is working with horsemen on an arrangement to allow owners and their connections to attend.
Jockeys riding during Derby Week and staying in Kentucky will require negative result from a Sept. 3 test at Churchill Downs. Jockeys who leave state and return, or coming in just for Kentucky Downs, require negative test within 72 hours before arriving in Kentucky and another negative finding from a test performed in Kentucky or the metro Nashville area before being permitted on Kentucky Downs' property.
Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector, dominant winner in Sunday’s $200,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Derby a month after taking Keeneland’s Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, earned his first career victory at Kentucky Downs in his second start, taking a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race last Sept. 5. “It just goes to show that our record purses attract outstanding horses, period,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We might race only on turf, but that doesn’t mean we have only grass horses."
Kentucky Downs ranked among the big winners at Keeneland Race Course’s historic five-day meet that concluded Sunday with reigning $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup victor Zulu Alpha taking the $175,000 TVG Elkhorn Stakes. On Saturday, Art Collector won Keeneland’s $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, Leinster nipped stablemate Totally Boss in the $150,000 Shakertown at 5 1/2-furlongs on turf and Enola Gay took the $150,000 Appalachian at a mile on grass.
Grace Clark, Kentucky Downs' amazing Jill of all trades, was announced today as recipient of the prestigious The Jockey Club Scholarship. Grace is our social-media coordinator, works in the Kentucky Downs' racing office during the live race meet and with marketing and publicity year-round -- all while being a full-time student at the University of Kentucky.
With the addition of a sixth day of racing, Kentucky Downs’ 2020 live meet in September will offer about $12 million in purses, including 16 stakes. Non-stakes purses were reduced in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown but remain the highest in North America. “We’re very pleased with what we’re able to offer in 2020 in these challenging times,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
Kentucky Downs will reopen its Historical Horse Racing gaming on Wednesday, June 10 at 9 a.m. Central. The facility will open at 33-percent capacity and guests will undergo temperature screenings before entering the facility in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. About 513 gaming terminals will be available for play, spread over the first and second floors to allow proper social distancing. Wagering on racetracks across the country will begin on Thursday, June 11.
Kentucky Downs’ six-date live race meet in September will feature two of the world’s most prominent announcers in Michael Wrona and new addition Larry Collmus, the voice of NBC’s Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup broadcasts. “This is a great coup for Kentucky Downs to get two of the best announcers in the world to call our six days of racing,” says Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager.
Even if it wasn’t in the original plans, the connections for claimer-turned-Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Zulu Alpha couldn’t have found a better landing spot for Kentucky Downs’ $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup winner than Saturday’s $200,000 Kitten’s Joy Pan American at Gulfstream Park.
Horses who raced at Kentucky Downs' 2019 meet filled out a hefty $180.20 exacta for a $2 bet, with 9-1 shot Factor This winning his second graded stakes in a front-running performance, with 11-1 shot Dontblamerocket second. Factor This was fourth in Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles, while Dontblamerocket won a starter-allowance race.
Scooooore!!! We're mad about March, with the ultimate Kentucky Double of horses and hoops. Our fan newsletter will get you caught up on everything Kentucky Downs. Click here for more!
Combatant became the 21st horse who raced at Kentucky Downs in the last 10 meets to go on to win a Grade 1 stakes, taking Saturday’s $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap under Joel Rosario. Finishing a neck back in second was 33-1 shot Multiplier, another #KyDownsGrad who rounded out a $187 payoff for the $1 exacta in the seven-horse field.
Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha, a former claimer who won the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) presented by Runhappy, returns to the races Saturday when he faces a competitive group of nine other older horses in the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream Park. That's a race Zulu Alpha won last year in a season capped by taking Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
Get the lowdown on what's up at Kentucky Downs in our February newsletter. We catch up with co-managing partner Ron Winchell, give an update on our #KyDownsGrads, including huge day Saturday at the Fair Grounds, and keep you apprised how you can cash in on our promotions. Click here for February newsletter
“I told Mike (Maker), ‘I want to run next fall in Kentucky twice,’” owner Michael Hui said the day after Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup winner Zulu Alpha earned his first Grade 1 and second $1 million victory in Gulfstream Park's Pegasus World Cup Turf. “He smiled really big and said, ‘I do, too.’ (Zulu Alpha) has earned the right where we’ll pick and choose. But the goal is to run at Kentucky Downs and run at Keeneland.”
Michael Hui’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Zulu Alpha added another chapter to his success story, slipping through an opening along the rail in deep stretch to pass Irish import Magic Wand and go on to an 11-1 upset of Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park. It was Zulu Alpha's second $1 million win, following his triumph in Kentucky Downs' Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup over 2018 winner Arklow.
Rather than have Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup winner Zulu Alpha try for a repeat win in the W.L. McKnight (G3) on Jan. 25, owner Michael Hui is opting for a far bigger prize later Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Runhappy. “The way Mike (Maker) put it to me is you can go in the McKnight again for $200,000 and you will be even money or you can take a shot,” Hui said. “…I’m all about taking a shot. Why not?”
Millionaire Arklow, winner of Kentucky Downs' Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup in 2018 and second in the $1 million 2019 edition, is on target to make his next two starts in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park and the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic. “He’s always in the hunt and is a major threat to win every race he is in," said Donegal founder Jerry Crawford. "As he proved in the Joe Hirsch, when things break his way, watch out. Even in defeat, he never loses by much and always tries."
Next Shares, winner of Kentucky Downs' 2018 Old Friends Stakes, and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. won the Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap Saturday at Del Mar. Next Shares won Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile in his next start after the Old Friends. This year he was seventh in Kentucky Downs' $750,000 Tourist Mile while dealing with firmer turf than the gelding prefers. "It was very rewarding. I never gave up on him," said trainer Richard Baltas.
Raymond “Butch” Lehr is Kentucky Downs’ new track superintendent, enlisted to oversee the care of America’s most unique turf course following the retirement of Ron Moore. Lehr became one of the industry’s most-respected and best-known track superintendents during his 30 years in that post at Churchill Downs, where he worked for 46 1/2 years overall before retiring after the 2012 spring meet. That fall, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters honored Lehr with its Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing, the only track superintendent so honored in the organization’s 60-year history.
Our latest "What's Up at Kentucky Downs" fan newsletter is out. Get details about latest promotions, news and updates on #KyDownsGrads.
Kentucky Downs officially embarked on a new era under the ownership headed by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone with Thursday’s groundbreaking for the $25 million first phase of the racetrack and year-round gaming and entertainment facility’s expansion and renovation. “Today was starting the process: We’re going to make it bigger and better from top to bottom,” Winchell said. “When you come in here a year from now, it’s not going to look like the Kentucky Downs you’re used to the last couple of years."
Having beaten America's best 1 1/2-mile turf specialists in his last start, Donegal Racing's Grade 1-winning turf star Arklow takes on the world next in the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. “I don’t know if Arklow can beat Bricks and Mortar or the Europeans,” said Arklow’s trainer Brad Cox. “But I do know that Arklow is coming into the race 100 percent physically and just had one of the finest workouts in his life at Churchill on Saturday.”
Michael Hui is parlaying some of the money that Zulu Alpha won in taking Kentucky Downs’ $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup into a $100,000 bet on the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. “If the Breeders’ Cup was in Kentucky, it would have been a no-brainer," the owner said. "What makes it easier to do this is that very lucrative purse that we got the majority of at Kentucky Downs.”
Peace Achieved is unbeaten in three starts with blinkers and jockey Miguel Mena, a streak his team hopes to continue in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. "You almost feel like he’s holding something back as well, that there’s a bit more in the tank if you dig down," says assistant trainer David Carroll. "So we’re excited about him.”
Trainer Rusty Arnold’s reputation developed over more than 40 years is something that certainly doesn’t need any added polishing. That said, a first career victory in a Breeders’ Cup World Championships race would add a deserved bit of shine to the stout resume of one of Kentucky’s mainstay horsemen. That could happen with either Kentucky Downs' RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint winner Totally Boss or stablemate Leinster, who finished third in the $700,000, Grade 3 stakes.
With preliminary approval from the Franklin-Simpson Planning and Zoning Commission, Kentucky Downs this fall will embark on its largest construction project since the track opened in 1990. The first of three phases will add 18,000 square feet with an estimated investment of approximately $25 million. The new building will feature more gaming as well as more food, beverage and entertainment options.
Joe Minor's 2-year-old Peace Achieved, winner of Kentucky Downs' $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile, won his third straight race Sunday at Keeneland, holding off the late-running Vitalogy by a neck in the $250,000, Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon. With the victory in the 1 1/16-mile grass stakes, Peace Achieved earned an entry-fees paid berth in the $1 million Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Michael Hui's Space Mountain, dispatched at 9-1 odds, ran down favored Mr. Misunderstood to capture the $100,000 Remington Green on Sunday in Oklahoma City, with the top two finishers making their most recent starts at Kentucky Downs.
The RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs concluded its five-date meet once again breaking wagering records, with betting from all sources totaling $41,239,699. Purses totaled an unofficial $11.5 million and field size averaged a record 11.26 horses per race. Read on for more stats and figures!
It took Gentle Ruler 12 starts and more than a year and a half of competition to win her first race, but relatively little time to rise to the level of becoming a stakes winner at the $500,000 purse level. Thursday on closing day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, the filly did just that, winning the most lucrative race of her career, the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes by a half-length over longshot Lantiz. The victory, her fifth of 2019, marked her third stakes triumph of the year, following earlier victories in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park and the Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs.
After a quiet first four days of the Kentucky Downs meet, two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill waited until closing day and the meet’s final stakes race, to announce his stable’s presence. And did he ever. O’Neill-trained runners Legends of War and Stubbins finished one-two in the Thursday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes, generating a handsome reward for his stable and those that backed his runners at the mutuel windows. 23-1 longshot Legends of War paid $49.40 to a $2 win ticket, and a $1 exacta with 10-1 Stubbins delivered a $218 return.
Chris Landeros hopes to make the most of his belated appearance at Kentucky Downs this meet, riding Morsches Stable's favored Gentle Ruler for father-in-law Ian Wilkes in Thursday’s $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes.
Jack Sisterson, the former University of Louisville soccer player turned horseman, could have his biggest day as a trainer on Thursday’s closing card of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. As private trainer for Calumet Farm, Sisterson is running Coachwhip in the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes, followed by Lexitonian in the $500,000, Grade 3 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes.
Thursday's early scratches
It’s already been a banner meet for 26-year-old jockey Adam Beschizza, who also has a second and four thirds in 31 starts. “We were ultra unlucky last year,” Beschizza said. “We’ve probably had as many wins so far as we had seconds last year. We’ve sort of made amends this year.”
Two $500,000 stakes bring a close to the five-day RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs on Thursday, beginning with the eighth race, the Ramsey Farm for older fillies and mares at 1 5/16 miles, and followed by the male sprinters in the ninth race with the 6 ½-furlong Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson. See which horses our morning-line maker Byron King likes.
Jockey Jose Ortiz missed opening day of the five-date RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, but the track’s 2018 riding champion has made the most of the three days he has ridden, including sweeping Sunday’s $600,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby under Social Paranoia and the $348,250 Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks with Princesa Carolina.
Ortiz won three races Sunday, seven over the weekend and a meet-leading eighth overall while scheduled to ride all 10 races on Thursday’s closing card of America’s most unique race meet. Last year, Ortiz won nine races, the most in a single meet since Florent Geroux won 12 in 2016.
Today's scratches and rider changes (Sunday, Sept. 8)
Whether a 2-year-old sprint race is in Europe, or over a European-style course like Kentucky Downs, trainer Wesley Ward and owner Stonestreet Farm mean business. The trainer-owner combination, who teamed a few years ago with multiple overseas Group 1 winner and European juvenile champion Lady Aurelia, struck again Saturday at Kentucky Downs when Cambria scored a gutty head victory over Chimney Rock in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. The win gave Ward back-to-back winners in the race with fillies beating the boys, following Moonlight Romance’s triumph last year.
Always consistent and never off the board on the turf in her home state of Kentucky, Morticia earned her second career graded stakes victory in decisive fashion Saturday when she headed every point of call to take the Grade 3, $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint Stakes by 1 ¾-lengths over A Little Bit Me as part of Kentucky Downs’ blockbuster card featuring five stakes. The victory gave both trainer Rusty Arnold and jockey Tyler Gaffalione two stakes victories on the card.
Ms Bad Behavior, who failed to finish her most recent start five months ago, ran to her name at the start but was good as gold at the wire, bounding to a 1 1/2-length win to the $356,320, Grade 3 Three Chimneys Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs on a stakes-laden Saturday card.
The one time underachieving Totally Boss is now a graded stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup contender after running off to a 1 ¼-length victory over Smart Remark in the Grade 3, $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs on Saturday. The six-furlong Turf Sprint was a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and one of five stakes races – four of which were graded – on the Kentucky Downs lineup.
Mike Maker, the winningest trainer in Kentucky Downs history, experienced a frustrating first two days of the current Kentucky Downs meet, going winless with his first 19 starters and feeling unlucky with seven of his horses running second. Saturday during the highlight day of racing during the RUNHAPPY meet at Kentucky Downs, that frustration was put aside when Zulu Alpha rolled to an authoritative 3 1/4-length victory for the trainer in the Grade 3, $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup. The score gave Maker his fourth victory in the race after Da Big Hoss won it twice for him in 2015-’16, followed by Oscar Nominated in 2017.
Updated scratches for Saturday's 10-race, five-stakes, $3.88 million extravaganza, with Sunday's scratches at the bottom.
Saturday’s $700,000, Game 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint will be the first race for Breeze Easy LLC’s Imprimis since the 5-year-old gelding finished sixth in the Group 1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot on June 18. “Frankie Dettori got off him and said, ‘He was running, he was trying to get to them. He was just as good as them, but he was looking for a turn,’” trainer Joe Orseno said at Kentucky Downs. “He didn’t run his race, and still got beat only four lengths.”
Who does Byron King like in Saturday's five stakes at Kentucky Downs? Find out here!
Get Western secured a home for life upon his retirement by winning Thursday's $250,000 Old Friends Stakes in front-running style. “He’s one of those horses where he’s so athletic today he was there for me every pole, every step of the way,” said winning jockey Brian Hernandez. “He never traveled like he was going to get beat."
Arklow on Saturday tries to become only the third horse to win the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup twice. Happily for owner Donegal Racing, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux, the most lucrative race of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs this year now carries a $1 million purse. That and more in today's barn notes.
We've got your early scratches for Thursday's 10-race card, the big one being that 2018 Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Catapult has come out of the featured $250,000 Old Friends Stakes.
The scratch of program favorite Catapult, who was second in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, didn't impact the top choice of Byron King in Thursday's $250,000 Old Friends Stakes on the second day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. See who Byron has on top.
The RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs started off with a total of $8,464,103 wagered on the 10-race card, the record for the opening day and third-highest ever in track history. The all-time record is the $10,039,008 wagered on the second Saturday of the 2018 meet, traditionally the biggest day of the five-day meet. Ranking No. 2 is the $8,487,323 wagered on the second Saturday of the 2017 session.
Three races after getting unseated while his mount, runner-up Armchair Jockey, was galloping out, Tyler Gaffalione was in a more familiar position after the One Dreamer Stakes Saturday at Kentucky Downs: the winner’s circle. Shaking off the effects from a banged-up right knee from his tumble, Gaffalione guided Hanalei Moon past longshot Na Pali Spirit in the stretch to win the $250,000 One Dreamer on opening day of the RUNHAPPY meet at Kentucky Downs.
Jezebel’s Kitten is still learning, but she is learning while winning along the way. Saturday at Kentucky Downs in the $500,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, she raced in spurts, but raced effectively when it mattered most, rocketing past a big part of the field in the stretch en route to a 4 3/4-length victory over Ask Bailey.
Trainer Mark Casse got his second win on opening day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs with a dominant performance by Peace Achieved in Saturday's $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile Stakes. “It was a great day,” said David Carroll, who oversees Casse’s Churchill Downs operation. “We’re very proud of the horses, very proud of the team and we’re so happy for our owners.... We love Kentucky Downs; and days like today, it’s just magic."
Saturday in the richest race of the opening day of the RUNHAPPY meet at Kentucky Downs, the $749,000 Tourist Mile, Snapper Sinclair rallied to catch pacesetting Real Story in the shadow of the wire to score by a half-length, pushing his local record to two-for-two. In 2017 during his 2-year-old season, he won the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes with aplomb. Snapper Sinclair is not alone in being perfect at Kentucky Downs. So, too, is his owner, Bloom Racing, now four-for-four at the all-turf kidney-shaped oval in southern Kentucky.
Check out the opening day picks by our analysts Caton Bredar and Dick Downey.
The RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs that begins Saturday is keeping it simple: Just improve the successful formula that has made the track one of horse racing’s biggest success stories of the past decade. That includes what should be an improved broadcast production.
Here are today's early scratches. Some horses on the also-eligible list for the stakes are staying in in hopes of a defection by 10 a.m. Central Saturday. Happy handicapping!
The presence of fan-favorite Snapper Sinclair on its opening-day card is just the latest evidence of the lure of the 2019 RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. Though he has acquitted himself well on the dirt this season, the Steve Asmussen trainee will be returning the site of his lone stakes win and making his first try on turf since October 2018 when he breaks from the rail in the 12-horse Tourist Mile field.
See who Byron King likes in Saturday's four stakes on opening day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Bentley Combs hasn’t been training even two years but figures to have a starter in the $1 million, Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 7 with Botswana at Kentucky Downs. Combs, a graduate of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program, certainly wasn’t thinking he’d be in a graded stakes, let alone one with a seven-figure purse, when he claimed Botswana last year for himself as owner for $30,000 out of the gelding’s first race: a 12th-place finish and 30-length drubbing.
Co-owner and trainer Conor Murphy has learned that 2018 Tourist Mile runner-up Great Wide Open does not do well in the summer. Hence the 7-year-old gelding comes into this year’s $750,000 edition of the stakes on Saturday’s opening card at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs off of a five-month layoff since finishing sixth in Keeneland’s Grade Maker’s 46 Mile.
A total of 75 horses have been nominated for the $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, a Grade 3 race at six furlongs that is Kentucky Downs’ first race to be included in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. Combined nominations for all 14 stakes at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, of which five enjoy graded status, totaled 887, up from 719 a year ago. The increase of 168 nominations reflects a 23-percent jump.
Kentucky Downs’ four opening-day stakes attracted a total of 236 nominations, ranging from 53 for the $750,000 Tourist Mile to 70 for the $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile. “While nominations aren’t the same as entries, the enthusiasm with which horsemen across the country made their horses eligible for our stakes foreshadows very strong races and full fields,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
Besides attracting some of America’s finest sprinters on grass — including Stormy Liberal, the two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner and 2018 Eclipse Award male grass champion — Kentucky Downs’ $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint shapes up as featuring a unique subplot: Stormy Liberal taking on his kid brother Leinster, winner of Saratoga’s Grade 3 Troy Stakes in his last start.
Stormy Liberal, the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, is scheduled to run in the $700,000, Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, one of five graded stakes to be held at the upcoming RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. “Big purse and it fits into his schedule,” said trainer Peter Miller. “The ‘Win and You’re In’ is always a factor, sure."
The fastest five days in horse racing now is officially the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, thanks to a sponsorship agreement with Houston furniture magnate Jim McIngvale, owner of the former sprint champion and current stallion Runhappy. Kentucky Downs' Grade 3 turf sprint for 3-year-olds and older horses now is the $700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint.
Ann Chaloux of Livonia, Mich., and Jim Reams of Somerset, Ky., are the grand prize winners of Kentucky Downs’ #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest, earning a VIP trip to America’s most unique race meet. Joining them will be Kim Mosier, whom the track is honoring as a special Kentucky Downs Ambassador in recognition of her original and enthusiastic postings for the two years the contest was held.
Rick Hammerle, among horse racing’s most respected and innovative officials; popular New England sportscaster and former NBC racing analyst Bob Neumeier, and jockey Aaron Gryder are joining the Kentucky Downs team for America’s most unique race meet. “We are always looking for ways to enhance the experience of Kentucky Downs racing for our on-track guests, which includes our horsemen, and those betting our races around the country,” said Kentucky Downs' senior vice president and general manager Ted Nicholson. “We’re blessed to have among the very best in the business join the team for the fastest five days in horse racing."
Kentucky Downs is moving the starting time for its first race to 12:15 p.m. Central, up from the 1:25 p.m. in recent years. America’s most unique race meet runs Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12 over the all-grass track on the Tennessee border. "It just makes sense for a variety of reasons,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We have become one of America’s premier racing products. Knowing that, we want to make our races as convenient as possible to the most horseplayers possible."
Racing and sports enthusiasts, as well as those wanting to experience a slice of Americana in a memorable setting, have a week left to enter Kentucky Downs’ #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest on Twitter for the chance to win a VIP trip to America’s most unique race meet. The contest concludes July 31.
The Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint already is America’s most lucrative race for sprinters on grass outside the Breeders’ Cup championship races. Now its winner could earn an additional $1 million. The $700,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint winner will earn a $1 million bonus if the horse goes on to capture Keeneland’s $200,000 Woodford and the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Kentucky Downs’ #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest is coming back for the second year in advance of the 2019 live race meet, with Twitter submissions accepted throughout July. Tweet why Kentucky Downs is on your bucket list or why you want to come back and you could win a trip to America’s most unique race meet in this free contest.
Kentucky Downs’ 2019 condition book is now available online at kentuckydowns.com and equibase.com. Kentucky Downs is scheduled to pay out an average exceeding $2.3 million per card to horse owners for its five-date meet Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12. Says racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer: “One win at Kentucky Downs could make an owner’s year, and it doesn’t have to be a stakes."
A retired school teacher turned a $3 play into a record $780,307 jackpot Tuesday evening at Kentucky Downs. That topped the prior record of $709,983 hit on July 14, 2018 on one of the entertainment facility’s parimutuel gaming terminals. "In a million years I would not have dreamed that this would happen to me," she said.
Kentucky's April fan newsletter is out and online. Catch up with all the news, events, promotions and how our #KyDownsGrads are doing. Read here
Kentucky Downs’ online ticket office is open for buying reserved seating at America’s most unique race meet, Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12. Get your premium seating now in the Finish Line Pavilion, Turf Club Tent or Director's Room.
Kentucky Downs will stage its first $1 million race in track history with the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup getting a $250,000 purse increase. The all-grass track’s 14 stakes will offer a record total of $7.4 million in purses and KTDF supplements.“Having our first $1 million race is just the next logical step in Kentucky Downs’ ascent as a national leader,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
The $700,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint has been selected for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, providing Kentucky Downs its first “Win and You’re In” race as a launching pad to horse racing’s global championships. As part of the Challenge Series, the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint winner will get an automatic berth and waiver of the $30,000 in entry fees to the $1 million, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. A travel stipend is included for Challenge Series winners based outside of California, with $10,000 awarded for North American horses and $40,000 for international horses.
The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville will be back bigger than ever at Kentucky Downs on May 4, offering a convenient and economical way to enjoy the Kentucky Derby. “The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville provides the excitement, the wagering opportunities and even the fancy-hat environment of the Derby with free admission and parking — hoopla without hassle,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone officially are the new owners and managing partners in Kentucky Downs, finalizing the purchase of the racetrack and year-round entertainment center from the investment group that purchased the facility in 2007. “Kentucky Downs is one of horse racing’s brightest success stories of this era,” said new co-owner Ron Winchell, a prominent horseman and entrepreneur. “We are committed to increasing that trajectory and are looking at options for expanding and improving the overall guest experience."
Our March newsletter is out. Catch up with What's Up at Kentucky Downs
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday approved noted horseman and entrepreneur Ron Winchell and prominent gaming executive Marc Falcone as Kentucky Downs owners, with the sale expected to close around March 1.
Three Diamonds Farm’s Hembree rallied from far back in the stretch to capture Saturday’s $100,000 El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park, setting a track record for 7 ½ furlongs on turf in the process. Hembree won an allowance race at Kentucky Downs' 2018 meet.
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Next Shares heads into Saturday’s $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf off of a 3-for-4 win streak that started in Kentucky Downs’ Old Friends Stakes, America's richest grass race. We'll be simulcasting it at Kentucky Downs!
Doctor Mounty, who finished seventh in Kentucky Downs' Old Friend Stakes, surged from last of seven to take Gulfstream Park's $100,000, Grade 3 Tropical Turf by a length over Your Only Man, with Heart to Heart a nose back in third.
Kentucky Downs' Old Friends winner Next Shares got up in the final stride for a nose victory in Santa Anita's $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes. Having won three of his last four starts, the gelding now is headed to the $7 million Pegasus World Cup.
Kentucky Downs recently completed its Marines Toys for Tots drive, but the racetrack and entertainment center’s season of giving spans the calendar. “Giving back to the community is in Kentucky Downs’ DNA,” said Steve Thurmond, executive director of the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce.
“His last race in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf, he didn’t care for the soft going at all at Churchill Downs, so we figured we’d give him a confidence builder here,” trainer Mike Maker said after Kentucky Downs Juvenile winner Henley's Joy took Gulfstream Park's Pulpit Stakes.
Kentucky Downs’ racing program received its fifth graded stakes with the $300,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters awarded Grade 3 status for 2019. The five-date meet has picked up at least one graded stakes each of the past three years and now boasts graded distinction for five of its 12 unrestricted stakes.
Kentucky Racing Acquisition, LLC (“KRA”), a new company co-founded by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase all the assets of Kentucky Downs from parent company Kentucky Downs Partners, LLC, the investment group that has owned the race track since 2007.
Michael Wrona, one of the world’s preeminent race-callers and the voice of Santa Anita Park, has been named track announcer for Kentucky Downs' live race meet. The 52-year-old Australian-born Wrona has earned a reputation as one of the sport’s most colorful and entertaining announcers, weaving humor into precise calls.
We put out a special Breeders' Cup newsletter. Here's link Don't have Breeders' Cup tickets? Join us for the simulcast Friday Nov. 2 and Saturday Nov. 3
Bill Casner, a partner in Kentucky Downs and prominent horse owner and breeder, writes in the Paulick Report why Kentucky Downs has earned the right to be the one building a harness track in Oak Grove, Ky., if the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission grants a license to that market.
Court upholds legality of Kentucky Downs’ historical horse racing operation, determining that the track’s innovative electronic gaming terminals based on the results of previously-run horse races is pari-mutuel in nature and permitted under Kentucky law.
The ownership of Kentucky Downs has filed an application with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to build a standardbred track to be named Oak Grove Meadows on 80 acres near the intersection of Interstate 24 and U.S. 41-A in close proximity to Fort Campbell and Clarksville, Tenn. Kentucky Downs is committing $45 million to the Oak Grove project and plans to spend an additional $25 million in a major expansion of its existing track in Franklin, Kentucky.
Old Friends winner Next Shares and Tourist Mile runner-up Great Wide Open made it a lucrative Kentucky Downs exacta ($984 for $1) in Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. Next Shares went off at 23-1 odds when he defeated 81-1 shot Great Wide Open by 3 1/4 lengths.
More than 20 horses who raced at Kentucky Downs have been entered in Keeneland’s Fall Stars Weekend stakes, which are positioned as stepping stones to the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 2-3 at Churchill Downs. Among them: Tourist Mile winner Bound for Nowhere, Ladies Turf winner Insta Erma and Kentucky Downs Juvenile victor Henley's Joy.
We look back at Kentucky Downs' best race meet ever in our September newsletter.
"Every now and then it will hit me. I’ll just be walking around the house and just get up from the chair and realize that we won the Triple Crown. Man, I’ve got to sit down again after I think about it. "
A stakes-winning owner during Kentucky Downs recent meet is donating $5,000 for assistance to Kendrick Carmouche, the jockey who sustained a severely fractured leg when his mount fell after being forced to clip heels.
“Our group was fortunate enough to win a large purse at Kentucky Downs,” said the owner, who did not want to be identified. “Sadly, Kendrick Carmouche did not fare as well as we did."
Angaston put in a gritty stretch run from off the pace to narrowly win the $300,000, 6 1/2-furlong Franklin-Simpson Stakes sponsored by Franklin Bank & Trust by a neck over Majestic Dunhill in the closing day’s co-feature.
Kentucky Downs smashed its handle record for the sixth straight year, with a total of $36,421,722 wagered on the five-date meet. All-sources betting of $7,021,553 on Thursday was a record for the closing card. The total tops by 20 percent last year’s $30,246,888. Consider that Kentucky Downs set a betting record in 2013 of $12,814,891. That number has almost tripled in the intervening five years.
Franklin, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018) — Tricky Escape took care of unfinished business in Thursday’s seventh running of the $360,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes for fillies and mares, beating Mom’s On Strike by a head in the 1 5/16-mile race in which she finished second last year behind Kitten’s Roar, owned by stakes sponsor Ken and Sarah Ramsey. “I just really wanted another chance to bring her back here,” said winning trainer Lynn Ashby, adding of owner Jon Marshall, “and Jon agreed. It’s so perfect, though it was close. It was a nice race.”
Wagering from all sources on Kentucky Downs totaled $7,329,490 on Wednesday's 10-race card rescheduled from Sunday because of torrential rain. That's the highest for a weekday and third-highest all-time at the track.
Until running four horses this meet, trainer Todd Pletcher hadn’t run a horse at Kentucky Downs since 2014 and hadn’t won a race since 2010. “Is that all it’s been?” Pletcher joked when told he won his first race at the track in eight years. Not to be outdone by a former assistant trainer, Pletcher picked a fortuitous time to get a horse back in the winner's circle, sending out Channel Cat to victory in the 1 5/16-mile, $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs on Wednesday.
Jonathan Thomas made his training debut at Kentucky Downs a memorable one on Wednesday, taking the 1 5/16-mile, $300,000 Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks with front-running Osare easily holding off the late-running Princess Warrior by 2 3/4 lengths. The triumph gave Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz his third win on the card to pull him into what became a three-way tie for the lead of the jockey standings with defending meet titlist Julien Leparoux and Tyler Gaffalione at six wins each heading into Thursday’s closing card.
It turns out there is something that prominent horse owner Ken Ramsey reveres more than setting records, winning tracks’ owner titles or presenting trophies to himself. It’s family. And that's no small thing when Ramsey is gunning for a seventh straight owners title and ninth overall at Kentucky Downs.
With the track’s first $10 million day in history Saturday, Kentucky Downs is on pace to topple last year’s record all-sources handle of more than $30 million, which in turn smashed the 2016 mark. A total of $22,060,345 was wagered on Kentucky Downs through the first three days of the five-date 2018 meet.
Postponing Sunday's racing card until Wednesday after torrential rain struck the region doesn't appear to have cost Kentucky Downs any horses. There were only three defections from the bodies of the 10 races at Tuesday morning's scratch time, with two horses now running after getting in off the "also-eligible" list. There are five 12-horse fields, one with 11, three with 10 and the smallest having eight (with seven betting interests). In addition to the co-featured $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby and $300,000 Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks, there are four starter-allowance races carrying $100,000 purses designed as preps for the Dec. 1 Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park.
(Photo: Kendrick Carmouche on Chattel going onto the track for Saturday's Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. Grace Clark/Kentucky Downs photo)
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche, who went down in a spill when his mount clipped heels in Saturday’s $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, will be out a projected four to six months with a fractured right femur that was more severe than initially thought. Carmouche underwent surgery for more than four hours late Sunday afternoon at Nashville's TriStar Skyline Medical Center, according to Mindy Coleman, the Jockeys’ Guild attorney who was at Kentucky Downs Saturday and spent Saturday evening and Sunday at the hospital.
Kendrick Carmouche sustained a hairline fracture of his right femur when he went down in a spill after his mount Chattel clipped heels in the stretch during Saturday’s $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, according to Daily Racing Form writer Marty McGee and confirmed by the jockey’s agent.
College Day, where full-time college students have a chance to win one of 10 Microsoft® Surface tablet computers or one of two $1,500 scholarships, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Kentucky Downs. The popular event, staged in conjunction with the Kentucky HBPA, was to be Sunday but became a victim of the deluge of rain that forced postponement of the racing card until Wednesday.
Kentucky Downs canceled its Sunday card and is moving the 10-race program to Wednesday after rain pelted the region. “We felt it wasn’t going to be safe for our riders and horses, and safety is our No. 1 priority," said Ted Nicholson, the track's senior vice president and general manager. Refunds will be given to those with reserved-seating tickets who can't make it to the track Wednesday.
(Photo: Insta Erma gave jockey Drayden Van Dyke and trainer Richard Baltas their second stakes victory of the Kentucky Downs meet. Reed Palmer Photography)
Insta Erma, under a patient ride by Drayden Van Dyke, earned her first graded stakes victory in taking the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes from off the pace to beat Valadorna by a neck. The winner is trained by Richard Baltas, who teamed with Van Dyke to win the Old Friends Stakes at the track on Thursday with Next Shares. “I’m riding good horses, that’s key,” said Van Dyke, fresh off his first riding title at a major California track when he won the Del Mar crown.
In the fourth of five stakes races worth $2.7 million on Saturday's card, Proforma pulled the upset in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by Coca-Cola. Bet down to 7-1 off a 20-1 morning line, Proforma got by 5-2 favorite White Flag late in the stretch to get the win by a head. "All I can say that both horses laid it on the line," said winning jockey Joe Bravo.
Jockey Florent Geroux won two stakes and was second in two others on a day he capped with his third victory in Kentucky Downs’ Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup as Arklow captured the $750,000, Grade 3 stakes by a half-length over Bigger Picture. A total of $10,039,008 was bet on Saturday’s 10-race card, smashing the track-record $8,487,323 on the same day last year.
The initial running of Saturday's 6 1/2-furlong, $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Sprint Stakes, the world's richest prep for the new Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, was easily won by the filly Moonlight Romance, the second horse to win at the meet after last running at Royal Ascot.
In a hotly-contested blanket finish, Ruby Notion edged defending 2017 winner Lull by a neck to win the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes, with Brielle’s Appeal a nose back in third. “I don’t know if she’s good enough to get done what she’s doing right now. I know she’s just in super-good form right now,” said winning trainer Darrin Miller.
Full-time college students will have the chance to win one of 10 Microsoft® Surface tablet computers or one of two $1,500 scholarship on College Day at Kentucky Downs, held Sunday, Sept. 9 in conjunction with the Kentucky HBPA.
This is the best racing card in the history of Kentucky Downs. But is that understating it? Have we crossed a border, and could Saturday’s be a great card? Gary West handicaps Saturday's five stakes, races six through 10, and their purses: $2.7 million. But that reverberating number doesn’t quite say it all. Here’s another clanging klaxon: In the first two days of racing, the Pick 5 payoff has averaged $11,987.
One of American racing’s most lucrative days unfolds Saturday at Kentucky Downs, with a total of $3.37 million up for grabs, including five stakes worth $2.7 million. Here are some of the weekend highlights.
Next Shares, a horse that loves Santa Anita, proved on Thursday that he also loves Kentucky Downs, winning the $250,000 Old Friends Stakes under Drayden Van Dyke by 1 3/4-lengths over Siem Riep. A total of $5,815,464.58 was wagered on the 10-race card, fourth-highest all time and the highest for a weekday. There was $5,402,255 bet on the first Thursday last year.
Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs’ all-time winningest trainer and the three-time defending meet titlist, is seeking to become the first trainer to win the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup four times, let alone in consecutive years. And he’s not messing around. Maker entered five horses just in Saturday’s $750,000, Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup that is the track’s signature race. Five horses might be the entire field in some stakes at some tracks. But in the case of the 1 1/2-mile Calumet Farm, 18 horses were entered with only 12 able to start.
You've no doubt heard, sensing an unmistakable pride in the pronouncement, that Kentucky Downs is unique, owing largely to its 1 5/16-mile turf course, which from the air must look like a giant pear. As uniqueness goes, that's impressive enough and guaranteed to send a flutter through the pastoral heart. But for horseplayers, here's another and perhaps more significant reason Kentucky Downs has become something unique in America's racing experience: If you had bet $2 to win on every favorite over the last four years, you would have made a 5.3-percent profit on your investment. And that's — well, that's simply extraordinary, unprecedented in recent memory, or any memory, for that matter.
Thursday’s featured $250,000 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs is for horses who haven’t won a stakes race in 2018. That doesn’t mean the horses in the overflow field of 15 don’t possess talent. The Old Friends, conducted at a mile and 70 yards, attracted an excellent field whose entries include a Grade 1 winner (Undrafted), a Grade 1-placed horse (Next Share), Grade 2 winners (Conquest Panthera, Dimension), Grade 3 winner (Cowboy Culture) and multiple stakes-winners (Master Merion).
Kentucky Downs had its second-highest betting day in track history on Saturday’s opening card of the five-day meet offering among the highest average daily purses in the world, with a total of $6,205,873 bet on the 10-race card that featured four stakes
Bound for Nowhere had never been beyond six furlongs, but owner-trainer Wesley Ward was more than willing to take a shot. And now he’s bound for the bank after Bound For Nowhere and jockey Julio Garcia defeated Great Wide Open by a length in Saturday’s featured $681,400 Tourist Mile, presented by WinStar Farm, on opening day Kentucky Downs.
The $390,600 Kentucky Downs Juvenile was won by Bloom Racing Stable's Henley's Joy, extending a year of success for the owner of prominent 3-year-old filly Midnight Bisou. Bloom Racing captured last year’s Juvenile with the Steve Asmussen-trained Snapper Sinclair, while Henley’s Joy is trained by Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs’ all-time winningest trainer and three-time defending meet champion.
Miss Technicality recorded the largest winning margin of Kentucky Downs' opening day while taking the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies Stakes by six lengths over Lightscameraaction. “It’s not easy to just ship in and run on this track,” said jockey Julien Leparoux, the defending Kentucky Downs riding champion who capped a three-win day. “She showed a lot of ability, and she’s a pro.
The 5-year-old mare On Leave hadn’t won a stakes race this year, but trainer Shug McGaughey took care of that issue in Kentucky Downs' $250,000 One Dreamer Stakes. The One Dreamer is for fillies and mares 3 years old and up that haven't won a stakes race this year, a condition that hit On Leave right between the eyes, as she won by a half-length over I Remember Mama.
This is racing for the horsemen, the purists, the fans. And for horseplayers, it’s Baskin-Robbins: It has everything. No gossamer-thin boasts here; this is full-throated racing. This is racing that bursts on the scene like an Altoid on the tongue; it’s like all your birthdays coming at once; so don’t miss it. Kentucky Downs opens Saturday for its brief but spectacularly lucrative and festive season.
It’s post time for the Fastest Five Days in Racing as Kentucky Downs kicks off America’s most unique race meet Saturday with a 10-race card featuring four stakes worth $1.8 million, including purse supplements for Kentucky-born and -sired horses. “The enthusiasm and buzz going into this meet is unprecedented in Kentucky Downs’ 26 seasons of conducting live racing,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager.
The Jockey7 — the innovative wager that allows horseplayers to bet on individual jockeys and their mounts over each card’s last seven races — returns to Kentucky Downs after last year’s debut. The Jockey7 wager will be conducted over Races 4 through 10, with results based on a points system for top-four finishes. The bet will be a special wagering event listed as the Kentucky Downs Jockey7 with mutuel tellers and at self-service machines.
Wesley Ward has become as much a part of Kentucky Downs as grass racing. You know he’s going to be well-represented at America’s most unique race meet. The question often is: where?
Owner Staton Flurry has called Saturday’s $750,000 Tourist Mile on Kentucky Downs’ opening card the equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup for his 4-year-old gelding Mr. Misunderstood. “Brad and I talked and decided our best goal for the year should be the Tourist Mile instead of the Breeders’ Cup,” Flurry said the day before Mr. Misunderstood won Ellis Park’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile for his 10th victory in 13 grass starts. “Maybe, maybe not,” trainer Brad Cox said Wednesday with a laugh.
To show how Kentucky Downs has evolved, a Grade 3 stakes at world-famous Saratoga was the back-up plan for Henley’s Joy, one of 11 two-year-olds entered Tuesday for Saturday’s $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile on opening day of America’s most unique race meet.
Jazzy Times is the kind of break-through horse that Ty Kennedy has worked for throughout his young riding career. The gelding, claimed for $25,000 four races earlier by owner-trainer Wes Hawley, gave Kennedy the biggest victory to date in capturing Ellis Park’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint. Now the 24-year-old jockey is hoping that Jazzy Times tops that in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint on Sept. 8 at Kentucky Downs.
TVG, the popular cable racing network, will be broadcasting onsite for the first time from Kentucky Downs, with Scott Hazelton reporting from America’s most unique race meet on Sept. 6 and 8. The five-date all-grass meet that offers some of the largest purses in the world opens Sept. 1 and also runs Sept. 9 and 13. Hazelton will conduct pre- and post-race interviews and provide analysis, betting selections, featured wagering plays and segments designed to give viewers the feel and flavor of Kentucky Downs, which has been the top-ranked track the past three years by the Horseplayers Association of North America.
Mike Smith, who 2 1/2 months ago achieved the ultimate in his Hall of Fame career by sweeping the Triple Crown aboard Justify, will be at Kentucky Downs for the first time on Thursday, Sept. 6. The 53-year-old jockey won’t be riding but will be raising money for three charities: Old Friends equine retirement facility, which has a satellite operation at Kentucky Downs; the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, and The Giving Circle, an all-volunteer non-profit organization founded in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that seeks out communities in need to connect them with the resources to help.
Santa Anita’s Megan Devine is joining Kentucky Downs’ team of racing analysts for America’s most unique race meet, which runs Sept. 1, 6, 8, 9 and 13. Devine, an on-air analyst for Santa Anita who also works for TVG as a studio host and is Sky Racing World’s social-media manager, will join Kentucky Downs stalwarts Caton Bredar and Gary West in providing pre-race handicapping, analysis and paddock picks for the all-turf meet.
Kentucky Downs has lowered the takeout on its Pick 4 wager from 19 to 14 percent for its upcoming meet in early September, further reducing what already was the country’s lowest overall cost for placing bets. “I’m at a loss for words, it’s that awesome," says Jeff Platt, president of Horseplayers Association of North America.
Kentucky Downs has donated $25,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin-Simpson for the organization’s mission of helping youths “reach their full potential as productive, caring responsible citizens.”
Dennis Poppe of suburban Seattle and Tom Pinkowski of Mount Sterling, Ky., will be at the post for Kentucky Downs’ race meet next month as the track’s guests after winning the #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest. "Ultimately Dennis and Tom were chosen in very tight finishes for the breadth of their originality and humor — the ones that literally made us LOL." Click on the links to see some of their hilarious posts.
Just under the gun to making it the July newsletter, here is your latest update for What's Up at Kentucky Downs!
Jackpot! Record $709,983 payout on penny machine; 'Life-changing money being won at Kentucky Downs'
Debbie Blair, known throughout the horse industry for her world-class event management experience, has joined the Kentucky Downs team as director of group sales. Blair will market Kentucky Downs’ reserved-seating areas to groups of at least 10 people, including the new Top of the Stretch Chalet, a casual, open-air venue devoted entirely to groups. The other reserved areas — the Turf Club Tent, Finish Line Pavilion and Director’s Room — also offer individual tickets, with groups receiving a discounted rate.
Kentucky Downs stepped in as sponsor of the City of Franklin's fireworks display when a funding shortfall threatened to force cancelation of the popular free event, which will be Sunday, July 1 at America's most unique racecourse. “We pride ourselves on being a good civic partner, and our facility and property are ideal for fireworks and a celebration of our nation’s birthday,” said Amber Norris, Kentucky Downs’ director of marketing.
Contest participants post on Twitter and/or Facebook about why they want to go to Kentucky Downs for the first time or why (if they’ve been) they want to go back. General posts describing Kentucky Downs will also be considered. Must include hashtag #LiveAtKyDowns. Free with no limit on entries, though an entry blank must be completed for each post.
Kentucky Downs’ online ticket office is open for purchasing reserved seating at America’s most unique race meet, Sept. 1, 6, 8, 9 and 13. Tickets can be bought here. The popular tent at the track’s finish line is being transformed into the open-air Finish Line Pavilion, a permanent structure whose seating will expand from 220 to 300.
Kentucky Downs will offer a record $10 million in purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements at its five-date meet Sept. 1-13, with all 13 existing stakes getting increases and the creation of the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. The Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup and Tourist Mile had their purses raised to $750,000.
Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs are teaming again to boost the Kentucky racing circuit and keep horses and jobs in the state during the summer, with Kentucky Downs funding four new $100,000 turf stakes at Ellis on Aug. 5.
Roddy Valente, Rick Pitino's RAP Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Coach Rocks, fresh off a front-running maiden triumph over the same track, came with a relentless drive through the stretch to catch favored leader Take Charge Paula and win Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Coach Rocks had been second in a Kentucky Downs maiden race last September.
Hogy — who won a graded stakes for the first time in four years when taking last September’s Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint — justified trainer Mike Maker’s belief that the gelding would stretch out to a mile, capturing Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Canadian Turf at age 9 on March 3. Now Maker is going to test Hogy again, this time against Grade 1 company at Keeneland. “Right now I’m all-in on the Maker’s Mark,” Maker said of the April 13 race worth $300,000. “He’s doing every bit as good as he was going into the Gulfstream race.... It was ultra-impressive. You know, Hogy is Hogy. All the credit goes to him. We wanted to stretch him out all along, and he justified our opinion. Five-eighths at Gulfstream or Del Mar, I didn’t believe was his best distance, even though he’s been doing it. At that time, there really wasn’t anything available for him sprint-wise. If we got egg on our face, we’d look to go to Belmont or Canada to go six or seven furlongs on turf. Now we’ve got plenty of options. ”
When Snapper Sinclair captured Kentucky Downs’ $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile last September, it triggered the biggest day as horse owners for Texans Chuck and Lori Allen. The next race, Run Time rallied from well back to take one of Kentucky Downs’ $135,000 maiden races in his 11th attempt to gain his first victory.
“It was surreal, just to see that big white blaze charging down there at the end,” said Lori Allen. "... And the race immediately afterward was when Run Time broke his maiden. We were just nuts with ourself. I know how hard it is to win a race, and to win two in one day is just extraordinary."
The Allens now embark on a two-Saturday parlay with those same horses. Snapper Sinclair is among the favorites in the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 24. A week later, Run Time runs in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup at two miles.
FRANKLIN, Ky. — When Steve Thurmond helps Kentucky Downs celebrate its Grand Reopening this Friday, March 23, his motivation isn’t the t-shirt given out to the first 100 arrivals. He’ll be on hand to commemorate the 170 jobs that Kentucky Downs has created.
The Grand Reopening will feature other giveaways of merchandise, free play and cash spread throughout the festivities, which begin at 10 a.m. CT Friday and run until the facility closes for the night in Saturday’s wee hours. Nashville radio personalities do live remotes and two bands will perform. But for Thurmond, as executive director of the Franklin-Simpson County Chamber of Commerce, the special attractions afford a chance to publicly rejoice in what Kentucky Downs provides the community on a daily basis. Thurmond sees the most extensive renovation since the track opened in 1990 as a grand step in Kentucky Downs’ evolution as a destination attraction.
Michael Hui’s Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint winner Hogy, a durable 9-year-old millionaire gelding, surged away from seven younger rivals through the stretch to capture the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Lead by Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup winner Oscar Nominated, six Kentucky Downs-raced horses face off in Saturday’s $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on turf. The Grade 2 stakes is part of Gulfstream Park’s showcase card highlighted by the $400,000 Fountain of Youth for Kentucky Derby hopefuls.
You never want to get too far ahead of yourself when plotting out a schedule for a 9-year-old horse. But owner Michael Hui and trainer Mike Maker, who claimed the gelding for $80,000 last summer, do have one spot firmly penciled in for Hogy: Kentucky Downs’ 2018 meet. Yet to be determined is which race.
Mongolian Shopper won a starter-allowance race at the 2017 Kentucky Downs meet for horses that had competed for a claiming price of $10,000 or less. But she's become a star of sorts at Santa Anita, where she became the meet's first three-time winner in her stakes debut while paying $48.20 to win Saturday's Wishing Well for fillies and mares who had not won a graded stakes in a year.
Our renovation project is finally over . We're ready to celebrate and we want you to join us in the party! Read all about our Grand Reopening on Friday, March 23 in our February newsletter. Plus get updates on our #KyDownsgrads - horses that ran at our meet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo that’s less and not been a dead-heat,” Jeff Bloom, who heads the partnership that campaigns Snapper Sinclair, said of the narrow defeat in the Fair Grounds' Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes. “What was so tough is he was in front, in front, in front — missed it — in front, in front. It was like the only time the other horse got the head bob.
The new year will bring official unveiling of our renovations, permanent Finish Line pavilion, new reserved-seating area for groups, valet parking, paved lots -- and look for some stakes to be enhanced!
Record-setting Dueling Grounds Oaks winner Daddys Lil Darling finally got her Grade 1, but trainer Kenny McPeek doesn't discount that she'll back back at Kentucky Downs -- perhaps against males.
“The day I saw Tourist win the More Than Ready Mile convincingly in 2015 at Kentucky Downs, I knew I wanted to breed to him when I could," -- Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen
“You don’t get that old without having a heart and trying hard,” MikeMaker, Kentucky Downs’ three-time defending leading trainer, said of Shining Copper. “He’s just a tough old dude. He loves to run. He’s an unbelievably smart horse."
Our monthly newsletter keeps you up to date throughout the year with Kentucky Downs horses and wagering, gaming and entertainment events at Kentucky Downs. Sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, preferred email and mailing address and we'll send you our 2018 wall calendar.
'I know he’s turning 10. But if you watch this horse train every morning, he loves it. If you look back through his form, he’s only run five or six times every year' -- owner-trainer Conor Murphy of Dimension, first horse he bought after winning steeplechase parlay wager for $1.5 million
Skychai's Special Ops pulls off Kentucky Downs-Claiming Crown Emerald parlay
'This is the latest step in our evolution into an industry leader,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “Kentucky Downs will be well-positioned as a launching pad to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs next fall.'
"Snapper was so impressive breaking his maiden at Saratoga, so to come to that race at Kentucky Downs and perform as well as he did with the added distance, and to dominate the way he did, solidified what we always felt: That this is a very talented horse" -- owner Jeff Bloom
"He tries every time, gives 100 percent. This was off the radar. I mean, I knew he’d try, run hard. I didn’t know if that meant third, fifth. This is the toughest field he’s ever run against. They just told me that this is the largest margin in the history of the race, and Secretariat ran in this race."
Morticia is the third Keeneland graded-stakes winner this meet who made her prior start at Kentucky Downs, joining Heavenly Love (Grade 1 Alcibiades) and Zipessa (Grade 1 First Lady).
'At this stage of her career, I don’t think we’re really going around to look for the easier spot. I think we’ve kind of got her back on track, and we’re looking to take on all challengers' -- trainer Graham Motion on Miss Temple City
"Certainly that race tipped her hand to say that she belonged in this race today, running that hard against Miss Temple City,” - trainer Mike Stidham, referring to Zipessa's narrow defeat in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf
“It just goes to show the caliber of horse that runs at Kentucky Downs. And more importantly, the horses come back well…. I don’t think it mattered what she ran on." -- David Carroll, assistant trainer to Mark Casse
Beach Patrol backed up his victory in the Arlington Million with a five-length romp in New York's Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
"Kentucky Downs runs only five days and it’s an incredible amount of money. But their foresight by taking some of that income to make the circuit stronger I think has resulted in the rejuvenation of the Kentucky racing circuit.” - breeder Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud
"We are proud to be the Kentucky trailblazer in using historical horse racing to become a national leader and to help improve the commonwealth’s entire racing circuit," -- Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager
Wagering from all sources on Kentucky Downs’ 2017 meet that ended Thursday totaled $30,246,887.68. That’s an average of $6,049,377.52 a day and reflects an increase of 34.19 percent over the $22,540,761.22 bet in 2016.
“It’s wonderful to win the leading owner’s title down here for the fifth consecutive year and have my stallion Kitten’s Joy be the leading sire, and to win with one of his offspring the inaugural Ramsey Farm Stakes, that’s a pretty special day today." -- Ken Ramsey, owner of Kitten's Roar
“I think the mile and a quarter was just a little too far for him,” trainer Ian Wilkes says of Franklin-Simpson favorite Sonic Boom. “I think he’s going to be a really good miler next year. He’s going to be a nice horse.”
"I’d like to make a little speech and transfer it from my left hand to the right hand" -- owner Ken Ramsey, who will present the trophy for and who runs Kitten's Roar and Daring Duchess in the $350,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes on closing day at Kentucky Downs.
"They gave it to us, his ears went up and that basically was the whole trip. I kind of coaxed him along, let him breathe.... Once I got over that hill and started going down, I got to ask him and he really kicked in," -- Drayden Van Dyke
“If I had any doubts about her ability going forth, this dispelled all of them. She won with authority today, and that was very exciting to see.” -- Nancy Polk, owner/breeder of Daddys Lil Darling
Who does Joe like in Sunday's Dueling Grounds Oaks and Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby? Find out here!
Joe's picks in the $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup: #1 Postulation, #3 Muqtaser, #7 Enterprising, #4 Oscar Nominated
“I’m always nervous when I run her,” he said. “Obviously I’m very attached to her and just want to see her run well. You get much more nervous about these deals when you’re a favorite. There’s a lot more riding on it, and I’m just glad it worked out.”
"You can’t just see the baby born and just leave," jockey Chris Landeros said of missing racing when his first child, son Beckham, was born four weeks early. "This is a once a lifetime deal, and I took full advantage and got to enjoy it… That’s why they say it’s life-changing. Because your priorities change."
“He’s never had a bad day in his life,” said Maker, who now has won eight stakes here over the past two years, all but Sir Dudley Digges having been acquired through the claiming ranks. “Unfortunately it’s taken this long this year to get his first victory.”
The $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, run over 1 1/2 miles of descending, bending and ascending ground, offers a unique challenge for both horses and horseplayers. It’s the richest of Saturday’s four stakes and perhaps the most contentious.
Native Kentuckian Kiaran McLaughlin has run only three horses before at Kentucky Downs. But one of those was a victory in the 1999 running of the Kentucky Turf Cup with Shadwell Stables' Fahris.
"If a horse seems like he wants to go hop logs in the woods, if it seems like it’s going to help his mind, he’ll go hop logs in the woods."
"I think he knows he runs in big races. He’ll do everything he can. Fortunately and unfortunately, he’s running against some of the top long-distance runners in the United States," Tim Glyshaw, Bullard's Alley trainer
"I didn’t come in here with many high expectations. I just wanted to come in here and get a good experience, learn as much as I could. But you can’t knock what’s happening," - Tyler Gaffalione on winning two stakes in two days the first time riding at Kentucky Downs
"We came to the home straight and he was finishing strong. At that moment I thought, ‘Man, I can win the whole thing.’ He was traveling good underneath me." -- Jose Valdivia
'The wager just might appeal to casual bettors, to the folks who follow the sport intermittently and maybe go out to the racetrack rarely, but have seen enough and bet enough to know which jockeys they like.'
"I just had to guide her and hold on," Tyler Gaffalione on My Impression
'I was saying, ‘I think I’m going to get a fine from the stewards for whipping myself too many times before he hit the wire.' - owner Jeff Bloom
"He’s almost been there but not quite. We hope later in the year or next year we get over the hump and when it’s all said and done, he’s going to do something really good.” - Ron Hillerich, co-owner of One Mean Man
“It’s not about the money, especially when you can get an accolade like that on your resume for breeding. And also we’re thinking down the road to the Breeders’ Cup." - Wesley Ward on running the previously winless Ultima D in a $350,000 stakes instead of a $150,000 maiden race
Tyler Gaffalione, the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey, has actually seen his career actually has taken off since he lost his apprentice weight allowances.
Youngsters are in the spotlight Wednesday, and what’s arguably the day’s most compelling race, the $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Showcase Juvenile, has attracted a full field of 2-year-olds that bulges with potential.
John Hancock says he'll set up everyone in the bar at Ellis Park simulcasting with a round if Waki Patriot wins Wednesday's $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs.
Western Reserve drives home point that sometimes it's good when a plan doesn't come together!
Oscar Nominated, Enterprising and Taghleeb go easy half-miles at Trackside.
Miss Temple City, who twice beat the boys to win Grade 1 races last year at Keeneland, is using the Kentucky Downs race as a means to get back to the Lexington track.
Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg is running Ellis Park Juvenile runner-up Northern Trail and Make Noise in Kentucky Downs' $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile.
'When we claim these horses, that’s something (Maker) looks at really hard: Are they eligible for something at Kentucky Downs and to run in the Claiming Crown?' - Dr. Harvey Diamond
'Kentucky Downs has been able to go from completely off the national radar to a premier track by going against the industry norm' - 2016 NHC champ Paul Matties Jr
Kentucky Downs' latest innovation: Jockey7 Wager at North America's most unique horse-racing meet
FRANKLIN, Ky. (Friday, Aug. 18, 2017) — Kentucky Downs’ $350,000 2-year-old stakes has been renamed the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile.
FRANKLIN, Ky. — Reserved seats are now on sale online for Kentucky Downs’ elite all-grass race meet in September, including in the track’s new second-floor Directors’ Room.
Buff Bradley: “You keep the horses in the state ,and that’s got a snowball effect on everything. Every vendor, the straw and hay people, it keeps everybody around.”
Historical horse racing fuels larges average daily purses in U.S.
Track owners cite benefit of working with horsemen to improve racing
‘When you do that, they can’t stop us,’ Kentucky Downs’ Johnsen tells convention
LAS VEGAS (Thursday, March 9, 2017) — Be it working with tracks or regulators, discussion on Wednesday’s first day of the National HBPA Convention centered on partnerships horsemen can forge to improve the sport for everyone.
“By working together, we can improve the sport and generate more revenue,” said keynote speaker Corey Johnsen, himself a horse owner and breeder as well as the president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs, the track on the Tennessee border featuring the highest purses in North America for its five-date all-grass meet in September.
Corey Johnsen, president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs, will give the keynote address at the National HBPA’s 2017 convention March 8-11 at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel and Casino.
Record-setters Ramseys, Maker out in force
World War II, Korea veteran completes another year as custodian of Kentucky Downs’ jockeys quarters;
‘I don’t take any medicine, only 4 vitamins,’ he says
Ladies Marathon headlines Thursday’s closing-day card;
Legendary jockey Turcotte signs autographs at 11 a.m.
- Field sizes averaging 10.95 starters per race; 11.4 Sunday
- Autograph signing session with Turcotte benefits PDJF
- Maker wraps up training title; Geroux virtually has for jockey
- Sweeping Paddy in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf mix
- GoPro/HEROCast ‘very important first step for the future’
‘He’s so good right now, he’s King Kong,’ says Marquez.
‘If you’re going to beat him, you better go by running.’
Wins 3rd, 4th stakes of meet — all former claimers -
Oscar Nominated rolls in Dueling Grounds Derby,
Try Your Luck Dueling also romps in Grounds Oaks
‘All I can say is he’s second-best marathon horse in U.S.’
‘We share the same values: love and admiration of the beauty of grass racing, putting premium on fast horses with stamina’
‘It’s good endurance for them to go uphill and downhill’
“This horse was training unbelievable,” Mena says. “ .. He’s a tough horse. He doesn’t let horses go by.”
BetAmerica online contest Thursday benefits Old Friends; 3 seats up for grabs through Saturday’s on-track tourney
Maker also has strong contender in Greengrassofyoming
Winner stays on feet and runs down Caroline Test
‘We all agreed it was worth a shot,’ owner says
Albarado wins second stakes on opening day
Back to mile, she blasts to 3 3/4-length win over Cash Control
20-time winner Regally Ready still going strong at age 9; numbers don't always favor Ramsey; West, jockeys sign 'Ride to Win' book Saturday.
‘Now, the money is crazy. I wish I was 20 years younger'
• Barbados looking to regain form, put best foot forward
• Doyle reunited with Christie’s Ready in Ladies Turf
• Cox sends out live shots in Cash Control, Almasty
• Ancient Warfare can add to Casse’s big year with 2-year-olds
Saturday’s Ky. Downs opener:
At least 12 entries in 9 of 10 races, including three stakes
‘It sets the tone for a great meet,’ track president says
Colebrook has ‘bunch of irons in fire’ for Kentucky Downs opening card
Field sizes (10.6 per race in 2015), exacta takeout (18.25%) make it horseplayers association’s top betting product;
‘They’ve bucked every industry trend. No track has done that in so short a time period,’ says HANA president Jeff Platt
With one month to go until Kentucky Downs’ unique five-date race meet boasting America’s most lucrative purses, fans can order tickets online to ensure their place in the Finish Line and Turf Club tents.
Enhancing what already is American racing’s most lucrative purse program, Kentucky Downs is offering an additional $600,000-plus into its 2016 overnight races and stakes for its unique five-date, all-grass meet in September.
Jockey Florent Geroux believes that Da Big Hoss, winner of last September’s $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs, can compete with any horse in the country at 1 1/2 miles on turf.
Kentucky Downs is pleased to announce the addition of five-time Eclipse Award winning writer Jennie Rees to its live racing team as Director of Publicity for the 2016 season.
Kentucky Downs welcomed two new retirees to the Old Friends at Kentucky Downs retirement facility last week.
Kentucky Downs wants to congratulate our lucky but shy winner who won over $80,000 playing one of our $5 Triple Cherry Pop machines.
After turning in impressive performances at Kentucky Downs in September, a number of quality runners now look to make their mark on racing’s biggest stage next weekend during the 2015 Breeders’ Cup to be run at historic Keeneland Racecourse.****
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky., 35 miles north of Nashville, Tenn., has earned reaccreditation from the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.
Kentucky Downs has named Ted Nicholson Vice President. Nicholson had been consulting with the company on their 2015 racing season prior to being named to this permanent position.
Kentucky Downs ended its 2015 racing season with record numbers in every significant category, including starters per race, handle per race, and total purses paid. Starters per race averaged 10.6, up from 10.18 in 2014.
The final day of live racing at Kentucky Downs supported a worthy cause and added a variety of fair-like events and attractions to an exceptional closing-day card, which was highlighted by four stakes.
Kentucky Downs paid tribute to Thoroughbred aftercare today by hosting “Old Friends Day”, a 13-race card celebrating the retirement facility in Georgetown, KY that is home to over 100 pensioned ex-racers.
On Wednesday, September 16 Kentucky Downs is proud to host the inaugural running of the $150,000 Old Friends Stakes Sponsored by Tribute® Equine Nutrition.
It was Da Big Hoss for the big win at Kentucky Downs today as the Mike Maker trainee captured the $600,000 Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup, the jewel in the crown of the Franklin oval’s live racing meet.
Because of heavy overnight rains that left its turf course officially “yielding,” Kentucky Downs canceled the final eight races on its 10-race program Thursday, including both divisions of the One Dreamer Stakes.
Hot temperatures, world-class turf racing and a fair-like atmosphere characterized Franklin-Simpson Day at Kentucky Downs as the oval’s five-day live meet got underway this afternoon.
Fasig-Tipton, America’s oldest Thoroughbred auction company, has signed on to be title sponsor of two $300,000 distaff turf stakes to be presented Saturday, September 19 as part of “Fasig-Tipton Ladies Day” at Kentucky Downs.
Horsemen will have the opportunity to pledge a percentage of their total earnings to Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) during the September race meet at Kentucky Downs. The pledge drive, called Horsemen Giving Back will begin on Saturday, September 5, opening day at the Franklin, Kentucky track.
Encore Racing Based Games (RBG) has signed on as the new title sponsor of the $300,000 Encore Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs. The race will be contested on opening day – Saturday September 5 – at the Franklin, Kentucky all-turf Thoroughbred track. First post time on Saturday is 1:35 p.m. (CDT) and the Encore Juvenile Fillies is scheduled to go off at 4:35 p.m. (CDT) as the seventh race on the ten race live card.
The 24th season of live racing at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, KY, will kick off Saturday with a 10-race card contested over North America’s only European-style turf course.
Kentucky Downs recorded $8,425,830 in pari-mutuel handle on historical horse racing from June 29 to July 5, to set an all-time weekly record, besting the old mark of $8,332,610, set Feb. 24 to March 2, 2014. The record business levels followed Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) approval of 10 new wagers from the Encore system at its meeting on June 29. Kentucky Downs began using the Encore terminals and wagers on April 2.