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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
We look back at Kentucky Downs' best race meet ever in our September newsletter.
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.
“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
"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