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.
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.
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.