Almost $15M up for grabs at 2021 meet!

Jennie Rees

FRANKLIN, KY. (Wednesday, April 21, 2021) — 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

A record $14,903,000 will be up for grabs at Kentucky Downs, with the fastest six days in racing set to run Sept. 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12. That includes 16 stakes worth a track-record total of $10,050,000, with $4.85 million coming from Kentucky-bred purse supplements provided through the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

The $1 million, Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup and $1 million, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint will be showcased Sept. 11 on the NBC Sports Network from 4-5 p.m. Central. The Breeders’ Cup announced today that those stakes are 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. The winners of Challenge Series races earn a fees-waived spot in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup event.

Click here to add the entire Breeders’ Cup television schedule to your calendar.

The Breeders’ Cup announced on Tuesday its complete 2021 Challenge Series schedule, with the Calumet Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles for older horses one of only two new stakes added as automatic qualifiers for horse racing’s world championships. The Calumet Turf Cup is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint, at six furlongs, for the third year will secure its winner a fees-paid spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

“Earning a second ‘Win and You’re In’ race and getting both of our Challenge Series stakes on NBCSN are benchmarks in our escalating development as a national leader,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Vice President for Racing. “A huge day for us on Sept. 11 just got even bigger. We look forward to showing off Kentucky Downs, our turf course renovations, unique atmosphere and large fields to an even broader audience.”

The Calumet Turf Cup and Turf Sprint are part of a blockbuster card featuring five graded stakes on Sept. 11, the only Saturday of the short meet.

“Circling that date and working backwards,” said Michael Hui, owner of 2019 Calumet Turf Cup winner Zulu Alpha, who finished third in last year’s running. “Every horse I own wholly or in partnership will be pointed to the entry box for the Kentucky Downs meet.”

After individual purses paid out to horse owners last year dipped amid a three-month COVID-related shutdown, maiden races in 2021 will be $125,000 (including $60,000 in Kentucky-bred money) and first-level allowance races $135,000 ($65,000 from KTDF).

The slated purses are fueled by $8,208,000 in unrestricted association money and $6,695,000 in KTDF supplements, for which the vast majority of horses racing at Kentucky Downs are eligible. Making the purses — and thousands of jobs across Kentucky — possible is the innovative technology creating Historical Horse Racing, which combines the feel of electronic gaming with the time-honored parimutuel wagering upon which horse racing is based.

The purses average out to $2,483,833 a day. That does not include $1,000 paid out to every starter who finishes sixth through last.

“I need to get more grass horses,” quipped reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, who won last year’s Calumet Turf Cup for the second time in three years with Donegal Racing’s Arklow. “Kentucky Downs has been very good to us over the past four or five years. We definitely point to that meet, not only with stakes horses but maiden and allowance races. It’s a good clean strip. Horses come off that strip in good shape. We look forward to having a presence at that meet.”

Kentucky Downs will announce its admission and reserved-seating policies for the live meet on June 1.

Kentucky Downs purses since 2011
Year (dates) purses
2021* (6) $14,903,000
2020 (6) $11,668,473
2019 (5) $11,520,380
2018 (5) $10,273,630
2017 (5) $8,625,396
2016 (5) $7,923,476
2015 (5) $6,609,355
2014 (5) $4,875,722
2013 (5) $4,150,687
2012 (5) $2,086,650
2011 (4) $796,810

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