Our The Mint Gaming Hall/Kentucky Downs Year in Review is out! Click here to read all about our star-crossed year that was 2020
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.
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old filly Finite, whose first career victory came last year at Kentucky Downs, resumed her winning ways by beating older fillies and mares to take Saturday’s 35th running of Churchill Downs’ $100,000 Chilukki (Grade 3) by 2 ½ lengths over Sanenus. It was her fifth stakes triumph.
Arklow’s connections say he’s a different horse since blinkers were added for the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 12, which proved his second triumph in Kentucky Downs’ signature race in three years. Saying he’s different is saying something, given that Donegal Racing’s 6-year-old Arklow had earned almost $2 million in 28 races without blinkers, including victory in New York’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last year. Now he'll try to win the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on his third attempt.
Kentucky Downs only races six days, but the all-grass track has super-sized representation in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this Friday and Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
A total of 15 horses who raced at Kentucky Downs’ meet in early September are in the body of the seven Breeders’ Cup turf races, with three grass events for 2-year-olds on Friday and four for 3-year-olds and older horses on Saturday. Three other runners at the 2020 meet are in Breeders' Cup dirt races.
With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships less than a month away, horses coming out of races at Kentucky Downs were in the spotlight the past two weekends while taking prep races at Breeders’ Cup host site Keeneland, Belmont Park and Pimlico. Kentucky Downs’ racing program produced its two latest Grade 1 winners with Harvey’s Lil Goil taking Keeneland’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup this past Saturday, a week after Ivar captured Keeneland’s $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. Harvey’s Lil Goil, with Martin Garcia riding for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, turned the tables on Micheline in the QEII, reversing the 1-2 finish in Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks.
Kentucky Downs horses had a huge afternoon at Pimlico and Keeneland, including Tourist Mile third-place finisher Ivar winning Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile. We have stakes recaps.
Andy Muhlada calls himself a “weekend warrior” when it comes to horse-racing handicapping tournaments. But the 53-year-old from Lawrenceburg, Ind., proved a weekday wonder when it came to the inaugural Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Muhlada earned the track’s title of National Turf Handicapping Champion with a final combined bankroll of $9,211 for the two, separate live-money tournaments. "I stamped myself that I belong with these guys," he said. "That’s how I feel now.”
One year after getting beat as the favorite in the Grade 3, $700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes, Imprimis rewarded those who retained the faith in him on Saturday as the Broken Vow gelding got up by a neck over dead-heat runners-up Front Run the Fed and Bombard to capture the 2020 edition of the race at Kentucky Downs. "I expected this effort," said trainer Joe Orseno. " But this was a tough race. There were some quality horses in there. I mean, the Breeders’ Cup won’t be any tougher. We’re very happy where we have him right now.”
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.
Kentucky Downs announced that because of Saturday’s rain and expectations of more inclement weather that Sunday’s 11-race card is being moved to Tuesday. The meet then will conclude with Wednesday’s scheduled card. “With the steady rain that we had from the fifth race on and the projected forecast for rain overnight and tomorrow, we felt it the prudent thing to do safety-wise for both horses and riders,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. In addition, the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge’s first live-money tournament scheduled for Sunday now will be on Tuesday’s card. Wednesday’s handicapping tournament will go on as scheduled that day.
Chris Larmey knows a good handicapping tournament when he sees one, and that's why he will be playing in the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form on Sunday Sept. 13 and Wednesday Sept. 16. Larmey is a 14-time qualifier for the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), chairman of the NHC Players’ Committee and in the NHC Hall of Fame. “To me, it’s got everything you’d like in a handicapping contest," Larmey said.
Moon Over Miami, who needed a scratch the morning of the race to make it into the race, engaged front-runner Big Dreaming in mid-stretch and powered home to win Thursday’s 1 5/16-mile, $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby by a half-length under Javier Castellano at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. “We sort of took a shot sending him down, hoping that well, maybe, hoping in time, somebody would scratch,” said Kenny McCarthy, who oversees trainer Bill Mott's Churchill Downs division. “They said we could stay in until 10 a.m. So we just sent him down with our fingers crossed. It doesn’t often work out like that. We got a little bit of racing luck in every which way.”
MyRacehorse.com, which sells micro-shares in racehorses for just a few hundred dollars for each piece, is still flying high after their horse Authentic won last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby — and while carrying their black silks with the white horse-head emblem. Five days later, the unique partnership business will try to win the another big-money 3-year-old race: This time with the California-based filly Carpe Vinum in Thursday’s $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
he fields are set for America’s biggest day of turf racing this year outside the Breeders’ Cup, with a sensational stakes quintet on tap Saturday at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Each stakes on the Calumet Farm Day program is worth at least $500,000, with the four Grade 3 stakes highlighted by the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles. The other graded stakes are the $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint at six furlongs, whose winner will receive a fees-paid spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 7 at Keeneland as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series’ “Win and You’re In” program, along with the $500,000 English Channel Ladies Turf at a mile, the $500,000 Real Solution Ladies Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs and the $500,000 Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs.
How is Ellis Starr betting Saturday's marquee $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup? Read on!
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 4-year-old Ramsey Solution won Wednesday’s $300,000 Tapit Stakes by a length over Midnight Tea Time in the gelding’s first attempt in a stakes. It capped a huge day for trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Gerardo Corrales, who combined to win three races: the second (Infinite), third (Royal Approval) and then the stakes.
See who Ellis Starr likes in Thursday's $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks.
See who Ellis Starr, national racing analyst for Equibase, likes in Wednesday's Tapit Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
Louisville-based Skychai Racing is hoping to knock it out of the park when they send out Jolting Joe in Thursday’s $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs. “When you look at him compared to the rest of the field, you have to say he’s probably faced the toughest competition of anybody,” says Dr. Harvey Diamond, head of Skychai. “I don’t think he’ll stay 15-1. But if he stays that price, he’s certainly going to be a good bet."
Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Flavius surged to the lead at midstretch and held off a late charge from defending champion Snapper Sinclair by three-quarters of a length to win the 23rd running of the $645,700 Tourist Mile to cap the WinStar Farm opening-day program of the six-day RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Ellis Starr, national racing analyst for Equibase, handicaps the fourth race on the Sept. 7 opening card for the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. See who Ellis likes!
Gary Barber’s 5-year-old mare Got Stormy, one of America’s premier turf milers of either sex, will try something at Kentucky Downs for the first time in a career that to date has spanned 23 starts, eight victories and $1.6 million in earnings. Trainer Mark Casse said that Got Stormy, seeking her first in in 2020, will run in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint on Sept. 12 at 6 1/2 furlongs. It will be the first time she has sprinted. In fact, the only time Got Stormy has raced at shorter than a mile was her debut as 2-year-old in a 7 1/2-furlong race, which at Gulfstream Park is staged around two turns. This and more in today's Kentucky Downs media notes!
Kentucky Downs can’t guarantee those betting its races will pick winners at the upcoming meet, but the all-grass track does help horseplayers make more money when they do cash tickets. With the number of starters per race averaging about an America-leading 11 horses combined with low takeout rates, Kentucky Downs offers one of the best betting products in the country. Though Kentucky Downs qualifies for a higher takeout rate under state regulations, which set a cap that is based on average daily on-track wagering on live racing, the track chooses to stay at a significantly lower rate for all its betting pools.
Trainer Mike Maker told his barn crew to enjoy an easy day Monday when the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs kicks off its six-date run featuring exclusively grass racing. “I said to the guys at the barn, ‘You guys can have a light opening day and then after that we’ll pick it up a little bit,” Maker, Kentucky Downs’ all-time winningest trainer, said cheerfully. “We entered nine the first day, and we have 15 to 20 every other day.”
Owners racing horses at Kentucky Downs compete for some of the most lucrative purses in the world, and the track is encouraging horsemen to contribute a piece of their winnings to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Kentucky Downs is enabling owners to donate to Grayson and/or the PDJF by designating a percentage of purse money won or a flat fee per starter. Owners can direct the horsemen’s bookkeeper to allocate funds from their accounts to Grayson or the PDJF through InCompass Solutions’ Track Manager system, with paper forms in the racing office also available for owners to fill out. Kentucky Downs is kicking off donations with a lead gift of $2,500 to each organization.
Grade 1 winners Zulu Alpha and Arklow, the past two winners of the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, are among the 53 horses nominated to Kentucky Downs’ signature stakes at 1 1/2 miles. Both horses are scheduled to run in the Grade 3 race that ranks among America's richest stakes on grass.
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.
Kentucky Downs will conduct racing without spectators at the track’s upcoming meet, a change necessitated by the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region. Ticket purchases through Kentucky Downs on-line box office will be refunded. “With the surge in cases in Kentucky and Tennessee, we feel it’s in our guests’ best interest and the state’s best interest to not have spectators,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Senior Vice President and General Manager. “No one is more disappointed than us to have to make this difficult call. " The track is working with horsemen on an arrangement to allow owners and their connections to attend.
Jockeys riding during Derby Week and staying in Kentucky will require negative result from a Sept. 3 test at Churchill Downs. Jockeys who leave state and return, or coming in just for Kentucky Downs, require negative test within 72 hours before arriving in Kentucky and another negative finding from a test performed in Kentucky or the metro Nashville area before being permitted on Kentucky Downs' property.
Kentucky Downs ranked among the big winners at Keeneland Race Course’s historic five-day meet that concluded Sunday with reigning $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup victor Zulu Alpha taking the $175,000 TVG Elkhorn Stakes. On Saturday, Art Collector won Keeneland’s $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, Leinster nipped stablemate Totally Boss in the $150,000 Shakertown at 5 1/2-furlongs on turf and Enola Gay took the $150,000 Appalachian at a mile on grass.
Grace Clark, Kentucky Downs' amazing Jill of all trades, was announced today as recipient of the prestigious The Jockey Club Scholarship. Grace is our social-media coordinator, works in the Kentucky Downs' racing office during the live race meet and with marketing and publicity year-round -- all while being a full-time student at the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky Downs will reopen its Historical Horse Racing gaming on Wednesday, June 10 at 9 a.m. Central. The facility will open at 33-percent capacity and guests will undergo temperature screenings before entering the facility in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. About 513 gaming terminals will be available for play, spread over the first and second floors to allow proper social distancing. Wagering on racetracks across the country will begin on Thursday, June 11.
Kentucky Downs’ six-date live race meet in September will feature two of the world’s most prominent announcers in Michael Wrona and new addition Larry Collmus, the voice of NBC’s Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup broadcasts. “This is a great coup for Kentucky Downs to get two of the best announcers in the world to call our six days of racing,” says Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager.
Scooooore!!! We're mad about March, with the ultimate Kentucky Double of horses and hoops. Our fan newsletter will get you caught up on everything Kentucky Downs. Click here for more!
Combatant became the 21st horse who raced at Kentucky Downs in the last 10 meets to go on to win a Grade 1 stakes, taking Saturday’s $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap under Joel Rosario. Finishing a neck back in second was 33-1 shot Multiplier, another #KyDownsGrad who rounded out a $187 payoff for the $1 exacta in the seven-horse field.
Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha, a former claimer who won the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) presented by Runhappy, returns to the races Saturday when he faces a competitive group of nine other older horses in the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream Park. That's a race Zulu Alpha won last year in a season capped by taking Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
Get the lowdown on what's up at Kentucky Downs in our February newsletter. We catch up with co-managing partner Ron Winchell, give an update on our #KyDownsGrads, including huge day Saturday at the Fair Grounds, and keep you apprised how you can cash in on our promotions. Click here for February newsletter
“I told Mike (Maker), ‘I want to run next fall in Kentucky twice,’” owner Michael Hui said the day after Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup winner Zulu Alpha earned his first Grade 1 and second $1 million victory in Gulfstream Park's Pegasus World Cup Turf. “He smiled really big and said, ‘I do, too.’ (Zulu Alpha) has earned the right where we’ll pick and choose. But the goal is to run at Kentucky Downs and run at Keeneland.”
Michael Hui’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Zulu Alpha added another chapter to his success story, slipping through an opening along the rail in deep stretch to pass Irish import Magic Wand and go on to an 11-1 upset of Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park. It was Zulu Alpha's second $1 million win, following his triumph in Kentucky Downs' Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup over 2018 winner Arklow.
Next Shares, winner of Kentucky Downs' 2018 Old Friends Stakes, and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. won the Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap Saturday at Del Mar. Next Shares won Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile in his next start after the Old Friends. This year he was seventh in Kentucky Downs' $750,000 Tourist Mile while dealing with firmer turf than the gelding prefers. "It was very rewarding. I never gave up on him," said trainer Richard Baltas.
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.
Having beaten America's best 1 1/2-mile turf specialists in his last start, Donegal Racing's Grade 1-winning turf star Arklow takes on the world next in the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. “I don’t know if Arklow can beat Bricks and Mortar or the Europeans,” said Arklow’s trainer Brad Cox. “But I do know that Arklow is coming into the race 100 percent physically and just had one of the finest workouts in his life at Churchill on Saturday.”
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.”
Peace Achieved is unbeaten in three starts with blinkers and jockey Miguel Mena, a streak his team hopes to continue in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. "You almost feel like he’s holding something back as well, that there’s a bit more in the tank if you dig down," says assistant trainer David Carroll. "So we’re excited about him.”
Joe Minor's 2-year-old Peace Achieved, winner of Kentucky Downs' $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile, won his third straight race Sunday at Keeneland, holding off the late-running Vitalogy by a neck in the $250,000, Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon. With the victory in the 1 1/16-mile grass stakes, Peace Achieved earned an entry-fees paid berth in the $1 million Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
It took Gentle Ruler 12 starts and more than a year and a half of competition to win her first race, but relatively little time to rise to the level of becoming a stakes winner at the $500,000 purse level. Thursday on closing day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, the filly did just that, winning the most lucrative race of her career, the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes by a half-length over longshot Lantiz. The victory, her fifth of 2019, marked her third stakes triumph of the year, following earlier victories in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park and the Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs.
After a quiet first four days of the Kentucky Downs meet, two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill waited until closing day and the meet’s final stakes race, to announce his stable’s presence. And did he ever. O’Neill-trained runners Legends of War and Stubbins finished one-two in the Thursday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes, generating a handsome reward for his stable and those that backed his runners at the mutuel windows. 23-1 longshot Legends of War paid $49.40 to a $2 win ticket, and a $1 exacta with 10-1 Stubbins delivered a $218 return.
Jack Sisterson, the former University of Louisville soccer player turned horseman, could have his biggest day as a trainer on Thursday’s closing card of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. As private trainer for Calumet Farm, Sisterson is running Coachwhip in the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes, followed by Lexitonian in the $500,000, Grade 3 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes.
It’s already been a banner meet for 26-year-old jockey Adam Beschizza, who also has a second and four thirds in 31 starts. “We were ultra unlucky last year,” Beschizza said. “We’ve probably had as many wins so far as we had seconds last year. We’ve sort of made amends this year.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz missed opening day of the five-date RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, but the track’s 2018 riding champion has made the most of the three days he has ridden, including sweeping Sunday’s $600,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby under Social Paranoia and the $348,250 Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks with Princesa Carolina.
Ortiz won three races Sunday, seven over the weekend and a meet-leading eighth overall while scheduled to ride all 10 races on Thursday’s closing card of America’s most unique race meet. Last year, Ortiz won nine races, the most in a single meet since Florent Geroux won 12 in 2016.
Whether a 2-year-old sprint race is in Europe, or over a European-style course like Kentucky Downs, trainer Wesley Ward and owner Stonestreet Farm mean business. The trainer-owner combination, who teamed a few years ago with multiple overseas Group 1 winner and European juvenile champion Lady Aurelia, struck again Saturday at Kentucky Downs when Cambria scored a gutty head victory over Chimney Rock in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. The win gave Ward back-to-back winners in the race with fillies beating the boys, following Moonlight Romance’s triumph last year.
Always consistent and never off the board on the turf in her home state of Kentucky, Morticia earned her second career graded stakes victory in decisive fashion Saturday when she headed every point of call to take the Grade 3, $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint Stakes by 1 ¾-lengths over A Little Bit Me as part of Kentucky Downs’ blockbuster card featuring five stakes. The victory gave both trainer Rusty Arnold and jockey Tyler Gaffalione two stakes victories on the card.
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.
Updated scratches for Saturday's 10-race, five-stakes, $3.88 million extravaganza, with Sunday's scratches at the bottom.
Who does Byron King like in Saturday's five stakes at Kentucky Downs? Find out here!
Get Western secured a home for life upon his retirement by winning Thursday's $250,000 Old Friends Stakes in front-running style. “He’s one of those horses where he’s so athletic today he was there for me every pole, every step of the way,” said winning jockey Brian Hernandez. “He never traveled like he was going to get beat."
Arklow on Saturday tries to become only the third horse to win the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup twice. Happily for owner Donegal Racing, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux, the most lucrative race of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs this year now carries a $1 million purse. That and more in today's barn notes.
We've got your early scratches for Thursday's 10-race card, the big one being that 2018 Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Catapult has come out of the featured $250,000 Old Friends Stakes.
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.
Three races after getting unseated while his mount, runner-up Armchair Jockey, was galloping out, Tyler Gaffalione was in a more familiar position after the One Dreamer Stakes Saturday at Kentucky Downs: the winner’s circle. Shaking off the effects from a banged-up right knee from his tumble, Gaffalione guided Hanalei Moon past longshot Na Pali Spirit in the stretch to win the $250,000 One Dreamer on opening day of the RUNHAPPY meet at Kentucky Downs.
Saturday in the richest race of the opening day of the RUNHAPPY meet at Kentucky Downs, the $749,000 Tourist Mile, Snapper Sinclair rallied to catch pacesetting Real Story in the shadow of the wire to score by a half-length, pushing his local record to two-for-two. In 2017 during his 2-year-old season, he won the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes with aplomb. Snapper Sinclair is not alone in being perfect at Kentucky Downs. So, too, is his owner, Bloom Racing, now four-for-four at the all-turf kidney-shaped oval in southern Kentucky.
Check out the opening day picks by our analysts Caton Bredar and Dick Downey.
Here are today's early scratches. Some horses on the also-eligible list for the stakes are staying in in hopes of a defection by 10 a.m. Central Saturday. Happy handicapping!
The presence of fan-favorite Snapper Sinclair on its opening-day card is just the latest evidence of the lure of the 2019 RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. Though he has acquitted himself well on the dirt this season, the Steve Asmussen trainee will be returning the site of his lone stakes win and making his first try on turf since October 2018 when he breaks from the rail in the 12-horse Tourist Mile field.
See who Byron King likes in Saturday's four stakes on opening day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Bentley Combs hasn’t been training even two years but figures to have a starter in the $1 million, Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 7 with Botswana at Kentucky Downs. Combs, a graduate of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program, certainly wasn’t thinking he’d be in a graded stakes, let alone one with a seven-figure purse, when he claimed Botswana last year for himself as owner for $30,000 out of the gelding’s first race: a 12th-place finish and 30-length drubbing.
Co-owner and trainer Conor Murphy has learned that 2018 Tourist Mile runner-up Great Wide Open does not do well in the summer. Hence the 7-year-old gelding comes into this year’s $750,000 edition of the stakes on Saturday’s opening card at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs off of a five-month layoff since finishing sixth in Keeneland’s Grade Maker’s 46 Mile.
A total of 75 horses have been nominated for the $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, a Grade 3 race at six furlongs that is Kentucky Downs’ first race to be included in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. Combined nominations for all 14 stakes at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, of which five enjoy graded status, totaled 887, up from 719 a year ago. The increase of 168 nominations reflects a 23-percent jump.
Kentucky Downs’ four opening-day stakes attracted a total of 236 nominations, ranging from 53 for the $750,000 Tourist Mile to 70 for the $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile. “While nominations aren’t the same as entries, the enthusiasm with which horsemen across the country made their horses eligible for our stakes foreshadows very strong races and full fields,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
Stormy Liberal, the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, is scheduled to run in the $700,000, Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, one of five graded stakes to be held at the upcoming RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. “Big purse and it fits into his schedule,” said trainer Peter Miller. “The ‘Win and You’re In’ is always a factor, sure."
Kentucky Downs’ #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest is coming back for the second year in advance of the 2019 live race meet, with Twitter submissions accepted throughout July. Tweet why Kentucky Downs is on your bucket list or why you want to come back and you could win a trip to America’s most unique race meet in this free contest.
Kentucky Downs’ 2019 condition book is now available online at kentuckydowns.com and equibase.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. Says racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer: “One win at Kentucky Downs could make an owner’s year, and it doesn’t have to be a stakes."
A retired school teacher turned a $3 play into a record $780,307 jackpot Tuesday evening at Kentucky Downs. That topped the prior record of $709,983 hit on July 14, 2018 on one of the entertainment facility’s parimutuel gaming terminals. "In a million years I would not have dreamed that this would happen to me," she said.
Kentucky's April fan newsletter is out and online. Catch up with all the news, events, promotions and how our #KyDownsGrads are doing. Read here
The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville will be back bigger than ever at Kentucky Downs on May 4, offering a convenient and economical way to enjoy the Kentucky Derby. “The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville provides the excitement, the wagering opportunities and even the fancy-hat environment of the Derby with free admission and parking — hoopla without hassle,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager.
Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone officially are the new owners and managing partners in Kentucky Downs, finalizing the purchase of the racetrack and year-round entertainment center from the investment group that purchased the facility in 2007. “Kentucky Downs is one of horse racing’s brightest success stories of this era,” said new co-owner Ron Winchell, a prominent horseman and entrepreneur. “We are committed to increasing that trajectory and are looking at options for expanding and improving the overall guest experience."
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday approved noted horseman and entrepreneur Ron Winchell and prominent gaming executive Marc Falcone as Kentucky Downs owners, with the sale expected to close around March 1.
Three Diamonds Farm’s Hembree rallied from far back in the stretch to capture Saturday’s $100,000 El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park, setting a track record for 7 ½ furlongs on turf in the process. Hembree won an allowance race at Kentucky Downs' 2018 meet.
Our latest free fan newsletter is out. Get up to date with our upcoming promotions, events and our #KyDownsGrads (including Next Shares, headed for Saturday's $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf - which of course will be simulcast at Kentucky Downs)
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Next Shares heads into Saturday’s $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf off of a 3-for-4 win streak that started in Kentucky Downs’ Old Friends Stakes, America's richest grass race. We'll be simulcasting it at Kentucky Downs!
Kentucky Downs' Old Friends winner Next Shares got up in the final stride for a nose victory in Santa Anita's $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes. Having won three of his last four starts, the gelding now is headed to the $7 million Pegasus World Cup.
“His last race in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf, he didn’t care for the soft going at all at Churchill Downs, so we figured we’d give him a confidence builder here,” trainer Mike Maker said after Kentucky Downs Juvenile winner Henley's Joy took Gulfstream Park's Pulpit Stakes.
Kentucky Racing Acquisition, LLC (“KRA”), a new company co-founded by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase all the assets of Kentucky Downs from parent company Kentucky Downs Partners, LLC, the investment group that has owned the race track since 2007.
Michael Wrona, one of the world’s preeminent race-callers and the voice of Santa Anita Park, has been named track announcer for Kentucky Downs' live race meet. The 52-year-old Australian-born Wrona has earned a reputation as one of the sport’s most colorful and entertaining announcers, weaving humor into precise calls.
Old Friends winner Next Shares and Tourist Mile runner-up Great Wide Open made it a lucrative Kentucky Downs exacta ($984 for $1) in Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. Next Shares went off at 23-1 odds when he defeated 81-1 shot Great Wide Open by 3 1/4 lengths.
We look back at Kentucky Downs' best race meet ever in our September newsletter.
Wagering from all sources on Kentucky Downs totaled $7,329,490 on Wednesday's 10-race card rescheduled from Sunday because of torrential rain. That's the highest for a weekday and third-highest all-time at the track.
Until running four horses this meet, trainer Todd Pletcher hadn’t run a horse at Kentucky Downs since 2014 and hadn’t won a race since 2010. “Is that all it’s been?” Pletcher joked when told he won his first race at the track in eight years. Not to be outdone by a former assistant trainer, Pletcher picked a fortuitous time to get a horse back in the winner's circle, sending out Channel Cat to victory in the 1 5/16-mile, $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs on Wednesday.
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.
With the track’s first $10 million day in history Saturday, Kentucky Downs is on pace to topple last year’s record all-sources handle of more than $30 million, which in turn smashed the 2016 mark. A total of $22,060,345 was wagered on Kentucky Downs through the first three days of the five-date 2018 meet.
(Photo: Kendrick Carmouche on Chattel going onto the track for Saturday's Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. Grace Clark/Kentucky Downs photo)
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche, who went down in a spill when his mount clipped heels in Saturday’s $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, will be out a projected four to six months with a fractured right femur that was more severe than initially thought. Carmouche underwent surgery for more than four hours late Sunday afternoon at Nashville's TriStar Skyline Medical Center, according to Mindy Coleman, the Jockeys’ Guild attorney who was at Kentucky Downs Saturday and spent Saturday evening and Sunday at the hospital.
In the fourth of five stakes races worth $2.7 million on Saturday's card, Proforma pulled the upset in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by Coca-Cola. Bet down to 7-1 off a 20-1 morning line, Proforma got by 5-2 favorite White Flag late in the stretch to get the win by a head. "All I can say that both horses laid it on the line," said winning jockey Joe Bravo.
Next Shares, a horse that loves Santa Anita, proved on Thursday that he also loves Kentucky Downs, winning the $250,000 Old Friends Stakes under Drayden Van Dyke by 1 3/4-lengths over Siem Riep. A total of $5,815,464.58 was wagered on the 10-race card, fourth-highest all time and the highest for a weekday. There was $5,402,255 bet on the first Thursday last year.
Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs’ all-time winningest trainer and the three-time defending meet titlist, is seeking to become the first trainer to win the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup four times, let alone in consecutive years. And he’s not messing around. Maker entered five horses just in Saturday’s $750,000, Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup that is the track’s signature race. Five horses might be the entire field in some stakes at some tracks. But in the case of the 1 1/2-mile Calumet Farm, 18 horses were entered with only 12 able to start.
You've no doubt heard, sensing an unmistakable pride in the pronouncement, that Kentucky Downs is unique, owing largely to its 1 5/16-mile turf course, which from the air must look like a giant pear. As uniqueness goes, that's impressive enough and guaranteed to send a flutter through the pastoral heart. But for horseplayers, here's another and perhaps more significant reason Kentucky Downs has become something unique in America's racing experience: If you had bet $2 to win on every favorite over the last four years, you would have made a 5.3-percent profit on your investment. And that's — well, that's simply extraordinary, unprecedented in recent memory, or any memory, for that matter.
Thursday’s featured $250,000 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs is for horses who haven’t won a stakes race in 2018. That doesn’t mean the horses in the overflow field of 15 don’t possess talent. The Old Friends, conducted at a mile and 70 yards, attracted an excellent field whose entries include a Grade 1 winner (Undrafted), a Grade 1-placed horse (Next Share), Grade 2 winners (Conquest Panthera, Dimension), Grade 3 winner (Cowboy Culture) and multiple stakes-winners (Master Merion).
Kentucky Downs had its second-highest betting day in track history on Saturday’s opening card of the five-day meet offering among the highest average daily purses in the world, with a total of $6,205,873 bet on the 10-race card that featured four stakes
Bound for Nowhere had never been beyond six furlongs, but owner-trainer Wesley Ward was more than willing to take a shot. And now he’s bound for the bank after Bound For Nowhere and jockey Julio Garcia defeated Great Wide Open by a length in Saturday’s featured $681,400 Tourist Mile, presented by WinStar Farm, on opening day Kentucky Downs.
It’s post time for the Fastest Five Days in Racing as Kentucky Downs kicks off America’s most unique race meet Saturday with a 10-race card featuring four stakes worth $1.8 million, including purse supplements for Kentucky-born and -sired horses. “The enthusiasm and buzz going into this meet is unprecedented in Kentucky Downs’ 26 seasons of conducting live racing,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager.
The Jockey7 — the innovative wager that allows horseplayers to bet on individual jockeys and their mounts over each card’s last seven races — returns to Kentucky Downs after last year’s debut. The Jockey7 wager will be conducted over Races 4 through 10, with results based on a points system for top-four finishes. The bet will be a special wagering event listed as the Kentucky Downs Jockey7 with mutuel tellers and at self-service machines.
Wesley Ward has become as much a part of Kentucky Downs as grass racing. You know he’s going to be well-represented at America’s most unique race meet. The question often is: where?
To show how Kentucky Downs has evolved, a Grade 3 stakes at world-famous Saratoga was the back-up plan for Henley’s Joy, one of 11 two-year-olds entered Tuesday for Saturday’s $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile on opening day of America’s most unique race meet.
Jazzy Times is the kind of break-through horse that Ty Kennedy has worked for throughout his young riding career. The gelding, claimed for $25,000 four races earlier by owner-trainer Wes Hawley, gave Kennedy the biggest victory to date in capturing Ellis Park’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint. Now the 24-year-old jockey is hoping that Jazzy Times tops that in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint on Sept. 8 at Kentucky Downs.
TVG, the popular cable racing network, will be broadcasting onsite for the first time from Kentucky Downs, with Scott Hazelton reporting from America’s most unique race meet on Sept. 6 and 8. The five-date all-grass meet that offers some of the largest purses in the world opens Sept. 1 and also runs Sept. 9 and 13. Hazelton will conduct pre- and post-race interviews and provide analysis, betting selections, featured wagering plays and segments designed to give viewers the feel and flavor of Kentucky Downs, which has been the top-ranked track the past three years by the Horseplayers Association of North America.
Santa Anita’s Megan Devine is joining Kentucky Downs’ team of racing analysts for America’s most unique race meet, which runs Sept. 1, 6, 8, 9 and 13. Devine, an on-air analyst for Santa Anita who also works for TVG as a studio host and is Sky Racing World’s social-media manager, will join Kentucky Downs stalwarts Caton Bredar and Gary West in providing pre-race handicapping, analysis and paddock picks for the all-turf meet.
Just under the gun to making it the July newsletter, here is your latest update for What's Up at Kentucky Downs!
Jackpot! Record $709,983 payout on penny machine; 'Life-changing money being won at Kentucky Downs'
Debbie Blair, known throughout the horse industry for her world-class event management experience, has joined the Kentucky Downs team as director of group sales. Blair will market Kentucky Downs’ reserved-seating areas to groups of at least 10 people, including the new Top of the Stretch Chalet, a casual, open-air venue devoted entirely to groups. The other reserved areas — the Turf Club Tent, Finish Line Pavilion and Director’s Room — also offer individual tickets, with groups receiving a discounted rate.
Kentucky Downs stepped in as sponsor of the City of Franklin's fireworks display when a funding shortfall threatened to force cancelation of the popular free event, which will be Sunday, July 1 at America's most unique racecourse. “We pride ourselves on being a good civic partner, and our facility and property are ideal for fireworks and a celebration of our nation’s birthday,” said Amber Norris, Kentucky Downs’ director of marketing.
Contest participants post on Twitter and/or Facebook about why they want to go to Kentucky Downs for the first time or why (if they’ve been) they want to go back. General posts describing Kentucky Downs will also be considered. Must include hashtag #LiveAtKyDowns. Free with no limit on entries, though an entry blank must be completed for each post.
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 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup and Tourist Mile had their purses raised to $750,000.
Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs are teaming again to boost the Kentucky racing circuit and keep horses and jobs in the state during the summer, with Kentucky Downs funding four new $100,000 turf stakes at Ellis on Aug. 5.
FRANKLIN, Ky. — When Steve Thurmond helps Kentucky Downs celebrate its Grand Reopening this Friday, March 23, his motivation isn’t the t-shirt given out to the first 100 arrivals. He’ll be on hand to commemorate the 170 jobs that Kentucky Downs has created.
The Grand Reopening will feature other giveaways of merchandise, free play and cash spread throughout the festivities, which begin at 10 a.m. CT Friday and run until the facility closes for the night in Saturday’s wee hours. Nashville radio personalities do live remotes and two bands will perform. But for Thurmond, as executive director of the Franklin-Simpson County Chamber of Commerce, the special attractions afford a chance to publicly rejoice in what Kentucky Downs provides the community on a daily basis. Thurmond sees the most extensive renovation since the track opened in 1990 as a grand step in Kentucky Downs’ evolution as a destination attraction.
Michael Hui’s Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint winner Hogy, a durable 9-year-old millionaire gelding, surged away from seven younger rivals through the stretch to capture the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
You never want to get too far ahead of yourself when plotting out a schedule for a 9-year-old horse. But owner Michael Hui and trainer Mike Maker, who claimed the gelding for $80,000 last summer, do have one spot firmly penciled in for Hogy: Kentucky Downs’ 2018 meet. Yet to be determined is which race.
Our renovation project is finally over . We're ready to celebrate and we want you to join us in the party! Read all about our Grand Reopening on Friday, March 23 in our February newsletter. Plus get updates on our #KyDownsgrads - horses that ran at our meet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo that’s less and not been a dead-heat,” Jeff Bloom, who heads the partnership that campaigns Snapper Sinclair, said of the narrow defeat in the Fair Grounds' Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes. “What was so tough is he was in front, in front, in front — missed it — in front, in front. It was like the only time the other horse got the head bob.
Record-setting Dueling Grounds Oaks winner Daddys Lil Darling finally got her Grade 1, but trainer Kenny McPeek doesn't discount that she'll back back at Kentucky Downs -- perhaps against males.
'I know he’s turning 10. But if you watch this horse train every morning, he loves it. If you look back through his form, he’s only run five or six times every year' -- owner-trainer Conor Murphy of Dimension, first horse he bought after winning steeplechase parlay wager for $1.5 million
Skychai's Special Ops pulls off Kentucky Downs-Claiming Crown Emerald parlay
'This is the latest step in our evolution into an industry leader,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “Kentucky Downs will be well-positioned as a launching pad to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs next fall.'
"Snapper was so impressive breaking his maiden at Saratoga, so to come to that race at Kentucky Downs and perform as well as he did with the added distance, and to dominate the way he did, solidified what we always felt: That this is a very talented horse" -- owner Jeff Bloom
"He tries every time, gives 100 percent. This was off the radar. I mean, I knew he’d try, run hard. I didn’t know if that meant third, fifth. This is the toughest field he’s ever run against. They just told me that this is the largest margin in the history of the race, and Secretariat ran in this race."
Morticia is the third Keeneland graded-stakes winner this meet who made her prior start at Kentucky Downs, joining Heavenly Love (Grade 1 Alcibiades) and Zipessa (Grade 1 First Lady).
'At this stage of her career, I don’t think we’re really going around to look for the easier spot. I think we’ve kind of got her back on track, and we’re looking to take on all challengers' -- trainer Graham Motion on Miss Temple City
“It just goes to show the caliber of horse that runs at Kentucky Downs. And more importantly, the horses come back well…. I don’t think it mattered what she ran on." -- David Carroll, assistant trainer to Mark Casse
"Kentucky Downs runs only five days and it’s an incredible amount of money. But their foresight by taking some of that income to make the circuit stronger I think has resulted in the rejuvenation of the Kentucky racing circuit.” - breeder Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud
"We are proud to be the Kentucky trailblazer in using historical horse racing to become a national leader and to help improve the commonwealth’s entire racing circuit," -- Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager
“I think the mile and a quarter was just a little too far for him,” trainer Ian Wilkes says of Franklin-Simpson favorite Sonic Boom. “I think he’s going to be a really good miler next year. He’s going to be a nice horse.”
"They gave it to us, his ears went up and that basically was the whole trip. I kind of coaxed him along, let him breathe.... Once I got over that hill and started going down, I got to ask him and he really kicked in," -- Drayden Van Dyke
“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
Who does Joe like in Sunday's Dueling Grounds Oaks and Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby? Find out here!
Joe's picks in the $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup: #1 Postulation, #3 Muqtaser, #7 Enterprising, #4 Oscar Nominated
“I’m always nervous when I run her,” he said. “Obviously I’m very attached to her and just want to see her run well. You get much more nervous about these deals when you’re a favorite. There’s a lot more riding on it, and I’m just glad it worked out.”
"You can’t just see the baby born and just leave," jockey Chris Landeros said of missing racing when his first child, son Beckham, was born four weeks early. "This is a once a lifetime deal, and I took full advantage and got to enjoy it… That’s why they say it’s life-changing. Because your priorities change."
“He’s never had a bad day in his life,” said Maker, who now has won eight stakes here over the past two years, all but Sir Dudley Digges having been acquired through the claiming ranks. “Unfortunately it’s taken this long this year to get his first victory.”
Native Kentuckian Kiaran McLaughlin has run only three horses before at Kentucky Downs. But one of those was a victory in the 1999 running of the Kentucky Turf Cup with Shadwell Stables' Fahris.
"If a horse seems like he wants to go hop logs in the woods, if it seems like it’s going to help his mind, he’ll go hop logs in the woods."
"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
'The wager just might appeal to casual bettors, to the folks who follow the sport intermittently and maybe go out to the racetrack rarely, but have seen enough and bet enough to know which jockeys they like.'
Youngsters are in the spotlight Wednesday, and what’s arguably the day’s most compelling race, the $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Showcase Juvenile, has attracted a full field of 2-year-olds that bulges with potential.
Miss Temple City, who twice beat the boys to win Grade 1 races last year at Keeneland, is using the Kentucky Downs race as a means to get back to the Lexington track.
Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg is running Ellis Park Juvenile runner-up Northern Trail and Make Noise in Kentucky Downs' $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile.