FRANKLIN, Ky. — 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 Juvenile Turf Sprint, to be held Sept. 8, is designed as a steppingstone to the new $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to be held Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, with $250,000 of its $500,000 purse available to Kentucky-bred and -sired horses through the KTDF, will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs.
The Kentucky Downs Juvenile and the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies were stretched in distance from seven furlongs to a mile. Those races are Sept. 1 and go from $350,000 to $400,000, including KTDF money.
“We have witnessed the rise in the importance of turf racing in America, as evidenced by the Breeders’ Cup adding the Juvenile Turf Sprint, so we want to mirror that trend,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We believe the Juvenile Turf Sprint will be a home run for the Breeders’ Cup in its first year, and it made sense for us to provide a logical pathway to that race.
“One of our goals is to be complementary to the great turf stakes at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs. We see it as a terrific opportunity for horses to run at Kentucky Downs, Keeneland and Churchill Downs, never having to leave the Commonwealth as the international spotlight shines on our racetracks.”
The all-turf course on the Tennessee line will stage two stakes worth $750,000, with its Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 8 bumped from $600,000 and the Sept. 1 Tourist Mile jumping from $400,000. Both races offer $400,000 in base purses plus an additional $350,000 in KTDF money.
The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint and Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, both Grade 3 races, were raised to $500,000, from $400,000 and $350,000 respectively. The Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, which earned Grade 3 status for 2018, now is $450,000, up $100,000.
Maiden ($130,000 for Kentucky-bred horses) and allowance races ($140,000-$145,000 for Kentucky-breds) remain the highest in North America.
The track also is offering four $100,000 races held under starter-allowance conditions on Sept. 9 to serve as preps for the Claiming Crown late in the year at Gulfstream Park. The races (two apiece for males and for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs and a mile and 70 yards) are for horses who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2017. The winners receive an automatic spot in the associated Claiming Crown event and up to $1,000 for shipping to Florida.
The enhancements are made possible by the success of Kentucky Downs’ historical horse-racing operation. In addition, Kentucky Downs is transferring $2.4 million in purses and KTDF money to Ellis Park in an arrangement approved by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents owners and trainers at the state’s five thoroughbred tracks. The deal includes creating four $100,000 turf stakes Aug. 5 for a Kentucky Downs Preview Day positioned as launching pads to their corresponding Kentucky Downs race.
Kentucky Downs 2018 turf stakes
includes Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund money
Saturday, Sept. 1 — $750,000 Tourist Mile, 3yo & up, mile; $400,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile, 2yo fillies, mile; $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, 2yo, mile; $250,000 One Dreamer (non-winners of a stakes in 2018), fillies & mares 3yo & up, mile and 70 yards. Thursday, Sept. 6 — $250,000 Old Friends (non-winners of a stakes in 2018), 3yo & up, mile and 70 yards. Saturday, Sept. 8 — $750,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), 3yo & up, 1 1/2 miles; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), 3yo & up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), 3yo &up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint; $450,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3), fillies and mares 3yo & up, 6 1/2 furlongs. Sunday, Sept. 9 — $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, 3yos, 1 5/16 miles; $300,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks, 3yo fillies, 1 5/16 miles. Thursday, Sept. 13 — $400,000 Ramsey Farm, fillies and mares 3yo &up, 1 5/16 miles; $300,000 Franklin-Simpson, 3yo, 6 1/2 furlongs.