I Love Kentucky Downs and So Will You

September 06, 2015 08:10am

It’s almost time for opening day at one of my favorite racetracks, but don’t blink, or you just might miss it. For Kentucky Downs, it’s only a five day meet, but what a five day meet it will be. Turf, turf, and more turf. America’s only European style course can be found in the southern part of the state, just north of Tennessee, and if you like big fields, low takeout, and quality grass racing, it is the place to be starting with Saturday’s ten-race card.  

The proximity to the state line is important to the story of Kentucky Downs. Once known as Dueling Grounds, this is the area where Tennessee gentlemen came to settle things. Pistol duels were outlawed in the Volunteer State back then, but in Kentucky, as many other states, it was legal as could be, inviting a short ride over the border for an end to any dispute. Thankfully, today’s contests are of the equine variety, and Kentucky Downs gets it right. A little slice of Americana, it offers the perfect blend of great turf racing and the feeling of stepping back a good spell into a time gone by.

The atmosphere might have the feel of another era, but the turf only racing at Kentucky Downs is vibrant, and the 2015 meet will start with a bang. Highlights of the opening day card are a trio of solid stakes, and as is the norm at the Franklin, Kentucky track, the fields are deep and competitive.

The $300,000 More Than Ready, for three-year-olds and up going one mile, welcomes back WinStar Farm’s Tourist, who will be making his first race back since the Breeders’ Cup Mile for trainer Bill Mott. Among his top competition include Undrafted, the sensational Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot in his last start, as well as, a pair of salty geldings who have combined for better than $3 million in career earnings, in Departing and Regally Ready.

A pair of $200,000 stakes for the two-year-olds, going seven furlongs, support the afternoon card topper quite well. With the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland this year, look for both the Calumet Farm Juvenile and the Encore Juvenile Fillies to supply the corresponding BC races with some runners. One Legend against the boys, and Simple Surprise for the girls, are the respective morning line favorites, but each race offers plenty of interesting choices to knock off the favorites.

After opening day, the four remaining race cards are:

Thursday, September 10

Saturday, September 12

Wednesday, September 16

Saturday, September 19.

All told this year’s Kentucky Downs’ meet offers $1.5 million in daily purses, and stakes racing on every card, highlighted by the $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup on September 12.

With that kind of purse structure, and a safe and consistent turf course unlike any other in the nation, Kentucky Downs draws top horseman from around the country, and the world. It also offers wonderful betting opportunities for the horseplayer. Take a look at the current HANA (Horseplayers Association of North America) rankings of the most playable race tracks in the nation, and you will see that Kentucky Downs is tops of the top.

It also proudly hosts the 2015 Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge tournament on Saturday, September 12, offering cash rewards, as well as an entry seat to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Keeneland, October 30-31 and two seats to the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas, January 28-30.

Don’t take my word for it; experience Kentucky Downs for yourself. Unless you don’t care for great turf racing, top horses and connections, big fields, low takeouts, and a wonderful place to enjoy the day at the races, you are going to love this place as much as I do.

Can't make it to Kentucky Downs? You can still be part of the fun! Play DerbyWars Kentucky Downs Survivor Challenge every day of the meet! Just pick a horse to come in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd and move to the next round. Last player standing wins $1,000!


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

ZATT's Star of the Week
Dennis' Moment

Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories