KENTUCKY DOWNS SMASHES BETTING MARK WITH THURSDAY’S RACE PROGRAM STILL TO GO

| September 14, 2016 | 0 Comments More

FRANKLIN, Ky. — Kentucky Downs has already smashed its single-season mark for wagering, and still has Thursday’s card remaining in the all-grass track’s elite five-date meet.

Through four days, the last being Sunday, all-sources wagering totaled $18,880,172.59. Last year’s total handle, up 6.3 percent over 2014 and then an all-time high, was $16,887,188. That’s despite running two fewer races than in 2014 and having to move its signature Saturday card to a Monday after the area was hit by a deluge of rain the day before.

Kentucky Downs’ cards have attracted at least $4 million in wagering each day, capped by Saturday’s $5,769,505.23, which shattered the prior single-day record of $5,071,415, set on last year’s closing card. Opening-day’s $4.6 million was excellent considering the track for the first time was running on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and up against stakes-jammed cards at Saratoga and Del Mar.

“I felt good prior to the season about our continued acceptance by horsemen and horseplayers,” said track president and part-owner Corey Johnsen. “I really felt there was a positive buzz concerning the meet. But when you’re breaking new ground, you just don’t know what to expect. So it’s very gratifying that we would record these types of increases. I think it shows the whole industry what’s possible when all parties, including government, work together and produce a great product.”

Kentucky Downs’ daily handle this meet:

  • Sept. 3 (Saturday) $4,603,239.82
  • Sept. 8 (Thursday) $4,019,637.14
  • Sept. 10 (Saturday) $5,769,505.23
  • Sept. 11 (Sunday) $4,487,790.40
  • Sept. 15 (Thursday) TBD
  • Total to date: $18,880,172.59

Sunday’s races averaged 11.4 starters; meet at 10.95

Through four days of racing, starters each day have been 114 (Sunday), 100 ( Saturday), 111 (Thursday) and 113 (opening day), for an average of 10.95 starters per race. Not counting Sunday’s pair of $75,000 Claiming Crown starter-allowance preps with 10 horses each, only one field that wasn’t a stakes has had fewer than 11 starters, with nine in Thursday’s third race. Even with the stakes, only two races had fewer than nine horses going to the post: this Saturday’s six-horse More Than Ready Mile, which had two scratches, and opening day’s Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, with eight after a scratch.

Turcotte visiting Kentucky Downs Thursday

Fans at the track Thursday can meet Secretariat jockey Ron Turcotte and get his autograph for a $20 donation, with net proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The signing will begin at 11 a.m. in an area near the track side of the clubhouse. There also will be a silent auction of memorabilia, including signed Secretariat photos.

Kentucky Downs also is staging a VIP dinner with Turcotte on Wednesday night to benefit the PDJF.

“Every year, Kentucky Downs hosts a fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund,” Johnsen said. “We’re honored that, Ron Turcotte will be part of that effort. Also, it’s a great chance for our live racing fans to meet one of the sport’s legends.”

Turcotte was aboard for 18 of Secretariat’s 21 races, including Big Red’s sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1973, when the Triple Crown hadn’t been achieved in the 25 years since Citation. He was the rider for 14 of the superstar horse’s 16 official victories. (Secretariat also crossed the wire first in the 1972 Champagne Stakes, but was disqualified to second for interference). In addition, Turcotte won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont on stablemate Riva Ridge.

Maker has wrapped up another Kentucky Downs training title

With seven victories — four in stakes — and eight horses in seven races Thursday, Mike Maker has secured a second straight training title at Kentucky Downs. Maker has won 7 of 28 races, with three seconds and five thirds. His nearest rivals, Rusty Arnold and Christophe Clement, have three wins each but neither has enough starters on the closing card to remain mathematically alive.

At 11 for 37 and with a six-win cushion over his nearest rival, Florent Geroux is guaranteed at least a share of the riding title that he won outright last year.

Brian Hernandez’s five victories rank second, but he’d have to sweep his six scheduled mounts and have Geroux be blanked to earn a piece of the crown. Robby Albarado has a theoretical chance, riding nine races — and all 10 if another mount gets in off the also eligible list — to add to his four victories, which place him in third.

Geroux won the 2015 Kentucky Downs crown with 12 wins. The jockey is 11 for 27 since being shut out while riding the card opening day. Given his momentum and riding eight of 10 races Thursday, he seems likely to surpass or at least match last year’s total.

“We’ve been focused on this meet for a while,” Geroux said after sweeping both the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby on Oscar Nominated and the Dueling Grounds Oaks on Try Your Luck, both trained by Maker. “Mike had been pointing for those types of races. Where some connections have their focus on Saratoga or Del Mar, Mike has focused on this meet, and it’s make all the difference. It was just luck getting in the maiden and allowance races, but the stakes you pretty much know every horse is going to get in. It’s worked out well.”

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s four wins give them a two-win lead over four ownership groups. The Ramseys run four horses Thursday, including high-weighted Al’s Gal in the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies’ Marathon. If Al’s Gal wins, it would be the fifth one-time claimer to win a stakes this meet for Maker and third for the Ramseys. Geroux has the mount.

Stat of the day: French-born jockeys won eight of 10 races Sunday, with Geroux’s quintet, Julien Leparoux’ double and California-based Flavien Prat’s one.

Sweeping Paddy powers into BC Juvenile Fillies Turf picture

One of the most impressive winners this meet came Saturday with Sweeping Paddy, a full sister to Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine, being by Paddy O’Prado and out of C.S. Royce. Showing again the toughness of the Ellis Park 2-year-old races, the 2-year-old filly was third at Ellis in her debut on dirt then won by 12 1/2 lengths under Robby Albarado at Kentucky Downs. The effort earned her a sparkling 97 BRIS speed figure.

Like Cherry Wine, she’s trained by Dale Romans and was bred and is owned by Frank Jones of Louisville, William Pacella of Chicago and Frank Shoop of Lexington.

“You never expect them to win by 12 1/2, though I knew she was a very good horse,” Romans said. “She does well on the dirt, too, but right now we’ll leave her on the turf for a while.”

Romans said the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf is the objective, but how she gets there remains to be determined. “The Jessamine (Oct. 12 at Keeneland) is a little too close to the Breeders’ Cup this year, so maybe something like the (Oct. 2) Miss Grillo in New York,” he said.

GoPro HEROCast makes quick start out of gate

On Saturday, video from a GoPro/HEROCast powered by Vislink was added into the telecast of the races, providing unparalleled views from the mini camera atop the helmet worn by retired jockey Darrell Haireaboard a pony. It was part of a collaboration between GoPro, Vislink, Kentucky Downs andJockeyTalk360.com.

“For the HEROCast product, Saturday’s effort was a first,” Johnsen said. “And the HEROCast people came away very impressed, understanding the potential for this product in horse racing. This was a very important step for the future televising horse races.”

“A decision was made to do video only, because it was the first day of an experiment. But it was determined that live audio could be added to the production very easily.”

Said Haire: “Saturday with GoPro and Vislink, we accomplished what we set out to do. It was a great step forward as we work on developing a solution for GoPro technology to bring the viewer into a horse race using cameras that are not limited to just one view from the front of a helmet.”

An edited package from the video shoot should be up within a week on KentuckyDowns.com andJockeyTalk360.com.

On the air, on the ’net

Kentucky Downs analyst Joe Kristufek will be back on with Ralph Siraco at 9:05 AM Central Thursday to discuss the card. Catch the live streaming or podcast at racedaylasvegas.com.

For more information, contact Jennie Rees, Kentucky Downs live-racing publicity, atjennierees@kentuckydowns.com.

About Kentucky Downs: Located near the Kentucky-Tennessee border off Interstate 65, the year-round entertainment center offers live racing on its unique 1 5/16-mile European-style turf course in September. Simulcasting is available seven days a week, as well as pari-mutuel wagering on Historical Horse Racing, charitable gaming, dining and other events. Racing has been conducted at the facility since 1990, when it was called Dueling Grounds.
Address: 5629 Nashville Road, P.O. Box 405, Franklin, KY 42135
Website: www.KentuckyDowns.com
Phone: 270.586.7778
2016 race dates: Sept. 3, 8, 10, 11 and 15.
Live Racing Manager: C.J. Johnsen: CJJohnsen@KentuckyDowns.com
Live Racing Publicity Director: Jennie Rees: TracksideJennie@gmail.com or jennierees@KentuckyDowns.com
Twitter: @KyDownsRacing. Check us out on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

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