Kentucky Downs

Record Purses for Ellis Park

Average daily purses are expected to top $350,000 at this summer's Ellis Park meeting, highest in the track's 99-year history, according to racing secretary Dan Bork. Bork said purses for maiden races will likely top the record $50,000 achieved in 2019 before the pandemic forced cutbacks last year in the wake of a three-month shutdown. Those numbers include Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements. Ellis Park released its 2021 stakes schedule Sunday. The schedule features 14 stakes races and the Henderson track has expanded its Kentucky Downs Preview Day to an...

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MSW Purses to Top $100K During Derby Week and at KY Downs

Purse levels for maiden special weight (MSW) races on the Kentucky circuit are projected to push past the $100,000 mark both during GI Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs and in September at the Kentucky Downs all-turf meet. In addition, Kentucky Downs plans to expand its stakes program to include two new $1 million races in 2021, giving the venue a total of three stakes at that level. (Read more details here). Ben Huffman, the director of racing at Churchill Downs, confirmed during a video meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred...

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Three $1-Million Races Head Record Kentucky Downs Stakes Schedule

For the first time in its 31-year history, Kentucky Downs is offering three $1-million races during its six-date 2021 meet. Added to the track's GII Calumet Turf Cup, Kentucky Downs' $1-million trio also will feature the GIII Turf Sprint and GIII WinStar Mint Million. Kentucky Downs will stage 16 stakes worth a track-record total of $10 million, including $4.85 million in purse supplements for registered Kentucky-bred horses. The all-grass meet runs Sept. 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12. "Purses are the economic engine of the racing industry, and Kentucky...

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Slight Delay in HHR Bill's Signage; 'Extension Facility' Greenlighted for Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on Tuesday reaffirmed his vow to sign the historical horse race (HHR) gaming bill that passed both chambers of the state legislature last week, but he explained that a decision by the Senate to adjourn through this week means that the HHR-enabling measure won't become law until the end of the month at the earliest. Beshear's remarks came via videoconference at the start of the Feb. 16 KHRC meeting. After the governor spoke, commissioners unanimously voted in a series of "emergency" measures contingent on the bill...

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Decision to Close HHR has brought Urgency to the Forefront

Two days after Keeneland Association and Red Mile announced they would be shutting their joint historical horse racing (HHR) venture at the Lexington harness racino while imploring the Kentucky legislature to provide "more clarity" regarding the disputed legal status of HHR, Vince Gabbert, Keeneland's vice president and chief operating officer, was called upon during the Jan. 26 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) teleconference to explain why that decision was made in the absence of any formal order from state officials to cease HHR, which is ongoing at other licensed locations...

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Kentucky Downs Turf Course Renovated

Kentucky Downs has just completed a major renovation of its turf course--its first 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. A swath five-eighths of a mile long and 63-feet wide around the far turn and into the stretch was replaced with sod featuring a blend of 90% Kentucky 31 fescue and 10% Kentucky bluegrass. Kentucky 31, named for the state and year it was discovered (in this case, in 1931 by...

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Imprimis Puts Orseno Back in the Spotlight

You have to have the right horses, manage them properly and get them to the big races when they are at their best. Those are the sentiments of Classic-winning trainer Joe Orseno, who will saddle Saturday's GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint morning-line co-second choice Imprimis (Broken Vow). It's been some time, 20 years to be exact, but this isn't Orseno's first trip to the Breeders' Cup with a live runner. Far from it. Back-to-back wins at the 2000 Breeders' Cup-held then as just a one-day, blockbuster eight-race program-put an exclamation...

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HHR Fate Still 'Elephant in the Room' As KHRC Grants '21 Race Dates

Saying he'd "like to briefly address the elephant in the room," Kentucky Horse Racing Commission chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz opened the board's Oct. 20 videoconference meeting by attempting to reassure the racing community that elected and appointed officials are working to find a solution to a Sept. 24 Supreme Court of Kentucky opinion that told a lower court to re-examine the legality of historical horse race (HHR) gaming. HHR handled $2.2 billion during the commonwealth's most recent fiscal year, and revenue from that form of gaming annually contributes tens of millions...

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The Week in Review: How Long Can Racing Fend off the Sports Betting Juggernaut

When it was announced last week that a record $748.6 million had been wagered on sports during September in New Jersey that appeared to be more bad news for horse racing. It was the most ever bet in any one state during a month and a sign of the times. The amount legally wagered on sports in this country is soaring, with no end in sight, and it stood to reason that some of that money had been siphoned off from racing. Sports betting is now available in 18 states...

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Kentucky Downs Hoping for Better News From Graded Stakes Committee

Every year, the Kentucky Downs stakes schedule seems to get richer and attract better horses. This year, there were 16 stakes worth a combined $8.6 million and many were won by horses that could have an impact at the Breeders' Cup. The stakes schedule is a source of pride among the track's management team, but also a source of frustration. Only five of the stakes are graded and those are all Grade III events, which the track's senior vice president and general manager Ted Nicholson called "dumbfounding." "It's frustrating," Nicholson...

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New Racing Facilities Planned for Southeastern Kentucky

Keeneland and the majority owners of Kentucky Downs have made application for a racing license and have proposed the construction of a state-of-the-art racing facility and associated track extension in Kentucky. The proposed facilities, to be located in Corbin and Williamsburg, would feature live Standardbred racing as well as historical racing machines. "Horse racing is an extremely vital part of the Commonwealth's economy," said Ron Winchell, who owns, controls and manages Kentucky Downs with Marc Falcone. "With the addition of a new race track and related amenities in southeastern Kentucky,...

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Runhappy Meet at Kentucky Downs Generates Record Handle

The Runhappy meet at Kentucky Downs, which concluded Wednesday, Sept. 16, saw record betting handle across the six days of live racing that totaled $59,828,44 for a total of 62 races (average per race $964,975), including $9,487,705 on the final day. The previous record of $41,239,699 (average $824,794) was set in 2019. Even with a modest reduction in prize money owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and a two-month absence of revenue from historical racing machines, a record total of $12,337,000 was paid out over the course of the meet, bettering...

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