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. The RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint is one of only two American races to be “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint division, with the winner getting an entry fees-paid berth in the $1 million, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, along with a travel stipend if the horse is stabled outside California.
Among the headliners is two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal, who is expected to run at Kentucky Downs.
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.
“We have 18 more nominations compared with last year for the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint. That’s a 32-percent increase,” said stakes coordinator Rick Albright. “Clearly being part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series provides motivation for nominating, along with raising the purse from $500,000 to $700,000 for Kentucky-bred horses. But even those horses that are not eligible to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund still get to run for $500,000, which is a huge purse by itself, especially in the turf sprint division.
“The $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup jumped from 49 to 62 nominations, which I have to believe is a function of not only bumping up that purse $250,000 from last year but with the ever-increasing popularity of Kentucky Downs’ stakes and racing program. The fewest nominations we received still was 44, for the $500,000 Ramsey Farm for fillies and mares at 1 5/16 miles. We received on average 63 nominations per race, with the most being 78 our newest graded stakes: The Grade 3, $500,000 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson at 6 1/2 furlongs, which is a very serious purse for 3-year-olds at this unique distance.
“Another factor is being fortunate enough to have Rick Hammerle on our team this year, which has been a big help in recruiting horses and horsemen from the West Coast.”
The nominations and the horses’ past performances for all 14 stakes at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs are now posted on equibase.com at this link. The lists of horses nominated for Saturday’s opening card were released Friday, with the horses made eligible for the remaining stakes announced today.
Entries will be taken Tuesday, Aug. 27, for the opening day card. Here are some probables for the four stakes that day, according to Kentucky Downs' racing office:
$250,000 One Dreamer, fillies and mares that haven't won a stakes in 2019, mile and 70 yards on turf: Area, Classy Act, Hanalei Moon, Jehozacat, Limari, Smart Emma, Stave.
$500,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, 2-year-old fillies, mile on turf: Ask Bailey, Envied, Fly So Pretty, Green Destiny, Lemon Scat, Monedas de Oro, Sunset Promise.
$500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile, 2-year-olds, mile on turf: Are You Kitten Me, Automate, Memorable, Night Time, Peace Achieved, Rowdy Yates.
$750,000 Tourist Mile, 3-year-olds & up, mile on turf: Bandar, First Premio, Flameaway, Great Wide Open, Hembree, Mr Cub, Next Shares, Parlor, Siem Riep, Snapper Sinclair