FRANKLIN, Ky. (Wednesday, April 10, 2019) — Kentucky Downs’ 2019 condition book — the booklet spelling out the races and their eligibility conditions for which the track will take entries and create its racing programs — is now at kentuckydowns.com and Equibase.com and will be out in print shortly.
Printed copies will be mailed to Kentucky Downs’ extensive horsemen’s list and also can be requested by emailing Kentucky Downs stakes coordinator Rick Albright at email@example.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. The track continues to lead North America and Europe in average daily purses, topping Hong Kong’s lucrative money and only surpassed in the world by Japan.
The record total of $11,532,000 set to be paid in Kentucky Downs purses this year does not include the $750 for every horse finishing sixth through last in non-stakes races, where the amount can be greater. Kentucky Downs last year averaged just more than 11 horses per race, highest in North America.
“We wanted to get our condition book out even earlier this year so trainers and owners can make plans for the entire season,” said Kentucky Downs racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer. “We appreciate that there can be a lot of logistics involved for those racing in other regions. And with the $700,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint now a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, we also wanted to give American and European horsemen all the information about our racing program to encourage them to not only send a horse to our first Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series stakes but to bring horses for other races.”
The winner of the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint on Sept. 7 receives a guaranteed entry fees-paid berth in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), along with a travel stipend.
Kentucky Downs paid out $10,273,630 in purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund monies for an average of more than $2 million a day in 2018. That doesn’t reflect the $2.9 million transferred in purses and KTDF supplements to Ellis Park, along with $500,000 apiece to Keeneland and Churchill Downs, in an arrangement with Kentucky Downs' horsemen’s group, the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association.
“Kentucky Downs’ success and ability to generate record-setting purse money in recent years has been a crucial factor in the rejuvenation of the state’s racing circuit,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We’re proud that the story goes beyond our own extraordinary purses, showing how everybody benefits when tracks and horsemen work together. With Ellis Park able to offer competitive purses, we are keeping horses in the state in the summer and that carries over to Kentucky’s fall race meets. We see more and more trainers from California and the East Coast joining their Midwest colleagues in coming to Kentucky Downs. More horses mean more jobs are staying in or coming to Kentucky, and those people are spending money in our racing communities.
“Owners would also tell us after winning one of our races that they now had money to go to the Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton yearling auctions. The money truly is spread around and typically reinvested in Kentucky's signature agribusiness and tourism industry.”
Maiden races will stay at $130,000, including KTDF supplements, but first-level allowance races are increasing to $145,000 and second-level allowance races (which carry an optional claiming price of $62,500) have been raised to $150,000. Races for horses at the $40,000 claiming level run for $55,000. Maiden-claiming races (for a claiming price of $75,000 down to $65,000) offer a $53,000 purse.
The purses are a function of Kentucky Downs becoming the first track in the state to embrace historical horse racing (HHR), the innovative technology that provides guests another betting product, one based on the results of previously run races. While Kentucky Downs’ Exacta Systems terminals offer the flash and excitement of electronic gaming, they adhere to the parimutuel wagering system that is the linchpin of American horse racing and in which players are betting against each other, rather than the house.
As with betting on live racing, a substantial portion of HHR revenue goes to horsemen through purses, including KTDF supplements for Kentucky-sired and Kentucky-born horses, which comprise the majority of those running. A total of $5,104,000 is scheduled to be paid out at Kentucky Downs’ 2019 meet to registered Kentucky-bred horses.
“There has never been a better time to own a Kentucky-bred horse,” Picklesimer said. “One win at Kentucky Downs could make an owner’s year, and it doesn’t have to be a stakes. Just the base purses that every horse is eligible to earn still are amazing and among the best in the country, including non-Kentucky-bred maidens competing for $58,000 and allowance horses for $70,000 or more.”
Kentucky Downs’ 14-race stakes schedule totals a record $7.4 million, headed by the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, the track’s first $1 million race and one of five Grade 3 stakes at the meet. Other high-profile farms have signed on as sponsors, with the mile 2-year-old stakes renamed the $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile; the Grade 3 mile stakes for fillies and mares the $500,000 Three Chimneys Ladies Turf; and the Grade 3 stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs for distaffers now the $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint.
WinStar Farm continues to sponsor the $750,000 Tourist Mile, named for its stallion who won the stakes’ 2015 running the year before capturing the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and Ramsey Farm remains the title sponsor of the $500,000 Ramsey Farm for fillies and mares at 1 5/16 miles. Exacta Systems also continues as title sponsor of the $500,000 Juvenile Fillies and $600,000 Dueling Grounds Derby.
Nominations, which are free, for all 14 stakes close on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Kentucky Downs 2019 stakes schedule
(Purses include KTDF supplements)
Saturday, Aug. 31 — $750,000 Tourist Mile 3yos & up, mile; $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile, 2yos, mile; $500,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, 2yo fillies, mile; $250,000 One Dreamer, fillies & mares 3yo & up (non-winners of a stakes in 2019), mile and 70 yards. Thursday, Sept. 5 — $250,000 Old Friends, 3yo & up (non-winners of a stakes in 2019, mile and 70 yards). Saturday, Sept. 7 — $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), 3yo & up, 1 1/2 miles; $700,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint “Win and You’re In Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Division” (G3), 3yo & up, 6 furlongs; $500,000 Three Chimneys Ladies Turf (G3), fillies & mares 3yo & up, mile; $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint (G3), fillies & mares 3yo & up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf, 2yos, 6 1/2 furlongs. Sunday, Sept. 8 — $600,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, 1 5/16 miles; $350,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks, 1 5/16 miles. Thursday, Sept. 12 — $500,000 Franklin-Simpson (G3), 3yos, 6.5