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.
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.