Join us for simulcast of the final round
of Kentucky Derby prep races Saturday:
Our 2019 dates: Aug. 31, Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12
  • Tickets on sale for Derby Party Director's Room
  • Online now: Buy reserved seating for race meet
  • Friday's handicapping contest track: Keeneland
  • Earn entries for April 26 Dodge Charger giveaway
  • Breeders' Cup series taps Ky Downs Turf Sprint
  • Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup now $1 million
  • Checking in with: Ky Turf Cup winner Arklow
  • Final Kentucky Derby Future Wager this weekend
  • Free Bris past performances of Derby prep races
  • Checking in with: Great Wide Open, Dimension
On sale now through online box office:
Largest Derby Party South of Louisville
Get your reserved seats for 2019 race meet
(At right: The Director's Room on Derby Day 2019. Harris Visual Media photo)

The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville will be back bigger than ever at Kentucky Downs on May 4, offering a convenient and economical way to enjoy the Kentucky Derby.

“The Largest Derby Party South of Louisville provides the excitement, the wagering opportunities and even the fancy-hat environment of the Derby with free admission and parking — hoopla without hassle,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We are the go-to place in south-central Kentucky, most of Tennessee and northern Alabama to celebrate America’s greatest race. For those staging parties, we’re also a convenient way to place bets early, including having advance wagering on the entire Kentucky Derby card during the May 3 Kentucky Oaks program.”

General admission and parking are always free at Kentucky Downs, with valet parking available for $5 (complimentary for Diamond and Platinum Players Club members). More than 100 flat-screen monitors throughout the facility will show in high-def all the action from Churchill Downs, with a proliferation of mutuel clerks and self-bet machines on hand to keep lines short for making wagers.

The second-floor simulcast center offers seating on a first-come, first-served basis, as does the first-floor bar and lounge area. The lounge terrace will be set up with chairs, tables and a bar for an outdoor option anchored by Kentucky Downs' massive video screen.

The second-floor Director’s Room will provide a more upscale experience for guests, the $50 per-person charge including a daylong catered buffet and table seating, race program and featuring dedicated betting windows and cash bar. The Derby Day Director’s Room tickets can be purchased at  https://www.kentuckydowns.com/racing/events/derby-party

Those seeking more action between races will be just steps away from Kentucky Downs’ gaming floor and 753 historical horse racing terminals.

Kentucky Downs again will stage a Derby hat contest, with cash prizes for the top selections. Mint Juleps in the official Derby 145 souvenir glass will be sold for $8. The fun continues after the races with the popular Nashville rock-and-roll band AC Drive performing in the lounge.

Guests must be at least 21 years old to access the gaming floor, 18 for simulcasting and bingo, with the exception of Lucky 7s Diner and KD Cafe.

In addition to advance wagering on the Derby card during the May 3 Kentucky Oaks program, Kentucky Downs again is conducting a $2,000 championship for its Road to the Roses handicapping tournament series. The top 15 handicappers each week in the free Friday tournament earn qualifying points throughout the run-up to the Kentucky Oaks, with the top 25 point-earners making the Oaks Day final. Qualifying began March 1, with standings available at  https://kentuckydowns.com/racing/simulcasting .

Kentucky Downs also will conduct its regular free handicapping contest on Oaks Day, with $250 in cash prizes, for those who don’t qualify for the Road to the Roses championship.
The Derby hat contest will be back at Kentucky Downs' Largest Derby Party South of Louisville. Seating in the lounge area and simulcast center is first come first served.
KY Downs' online ticket office open for race meet
Kentucky Downs’ online ticket office is open for buying reserved seating at America’s most unique race meet, Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12. Tickets can be purchased at http://kentuckydowns.com/racing/live-racing/buy-tickets

Ticketed areas include all-you-can-eat buffet, abundance of HD monitors, betting tellers and cash bar dedicated to that venue, each of which provide spectacular views of the expansive kidney-shaped course. The Finish Line Pavilion and the Turf Club Tent are open-air facilities located under cover near the course, while the Director’s Room is on the second floor of the main building with windows overlooking the track.

Ticket prices remain the same as when the track introduced premium seating in 2015.

The Finish Line Pavilion ($35 per person) was expanded last year to accommodate 300 guests who can watch the finish of the races either from the pavilion or stepping just outside to be near the rail. The close proximity to the paddock makes the venue especially popular with horsemen.

The Turf Club Tent ($50 per person) , positioned just outside Kentucky Downs’ main building near the top of the stretch, provides more amenities than the Finish Line Pavilion and a more-upscale buffet.

For those preferring to be indoors, the air-conditioned Director’s Room ($50 per person) also offers an upscale buffet and table decor, with a 150-person capacity. 

“Demand for reserved seating at our race meet has never been higher,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We regularly hear from racing enthusiasts across the country that they want to experience Kentucky Downs first-hand, and once they do then they can’t wait to come back. For our guests’ convenience, this is the earliest we have opened our online ticket office, and we do encourage those wanting reserved seating to make plans early to avoid getting shut out.” 

As always, general admission and general parking are free at Kentucky Downs, which offers a tailgate area at the top of the stretch and a grassy expanse between the main building and Finish Line Pavilion for those who prefer bringing lawn chairs or blankets.
The Finish Line Pavilion has up-close view of run to wire. Above photo by Gwen Davis; at right and below by Grace Clark.
The Turf Club Tent is conveniently located in front of the main building, provides terrific view of horses sweeping out of turn and into the stretch and features more amenities.
Each Sunday from 5-10 p.m. in April we will randomly select Club members actively playing with card to step inside our Cash Cube and catch as many bills as possible.
We'll have $8 beer buckets April 6 and 8
commemorating NCAA men's hoops Final Four
I magine how you'd look driving a new Dodge® Charger in Derby-rose red. Earn entries now through April 25 for a chance to win big in our super-charged giveaway on Friday, April 26. You’ll receive one entry when you earn 25 points, with additional entries awarded for every 100 points earned thereafter. We’ll be giving away THOUSANDS in cash prizes and that brand new Dodge® Charger! April 5, 12 and 19 we'll select 10 players from 1-10 p.m. to win bonus entries in the Charge Your Engines! giveaway. 
cold_mug_beer.jpg

Celebrate National Beer Day April 7
with half-priced domestic draft beer
$700,000, G3 KY Downs Turf Sprint becomes
'Win and You're In' for Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint
The $700,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint has been selected for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, providing Kentucky Downs its first “Win and You’re In” race as a launching pad to horse racing’s global championships.

As part of the Challenge Series, the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint winner will get an automatic berth and waiver of the $30,000 in entry fees to the $1 million, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. A travel stipend is included for Challenge Series winners based outside of California, with $10,000 awarded for North American horses and $40,000 for international horses.

The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint shapes up as America’s richest race for the grass sprint division outside the Breeders' Cup, with a $500,000 in base purse available to all horses and an additional $200,000 available to Kentucky-bred horses through the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. The stakes’ distance has been shortened from 6 1/2 furlongs to six furlongs.

The gross purse for the 2018 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint was $500,000, with $300,000 base money and $200,000 in KTDF supplements.

“We’ve aggressively pursued getting a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series stakes the past couple of years, and this is a very big deal for us,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “Having the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint as a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint provides great incentive for horsemen to run here in addition to the huge purse we are offering. We look forward to working with the Breeders’ Cup to recruit European horses and to make this an exceptional event for all participants, coming on a day when the eyes of the racing world will be on Kentucky Downs."

The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint will be run Saturday, Sept. 7 as part of a blockbuster card featuring five stakes. A Kentucky Downs record-shattering $10,039,008 was wagered on that Saturday in 2018.

“We are very pleased to welcome Kentucky Downs and its Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series,” said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel. “Kentucky Downs has increased the purse of the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint to a very attractive level, and when combined with the Championship rewards of an automatic berth, entry fees paid and travel awards, it will provide great incentives for horsemen to participate in this year’s renewal as part of the outstanding Sept. 7 program at Kentucky Downs.”

More than $2.5 million paid out each month in Jackpots!
Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup now $1 million;
Meet's 14 stakes worth record $7.4 million in purses
'Just the next logical step in our ascent as a national leader'
Photo: Arklow won last year's Kentucky Downs Turf Cup under Florent Geroux. Grace Clark photo

Kentucky Downs will stage its first $1 million race in track history with the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup getting a $250,000 purse increase.

The 28th running of the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, one of five stakes on Sept. 7, will offer a $550,000 base purse available to any horse running and an additional $450,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund for horses born and sired in the Commonwealth, which typically encompasses the vast majority of entrants. The 1 1/2-mile stakes was worth $750,000 last year, with a $450,000 base purse.

“Oh wow,” trainer Brad Cox, who won last year’s Kentucky Turf Cup with Donegal Racing’s Arklow, said of the enhanced purse. “Probably makes it tougher to win, but that’s tremendous. They’ve done a great job there in Franklin, Ky., setting up a boutique meet that people respond to with huge fields. There’s always a great crowd there, and something we look forward to and we plan for now.”

The all-grass track’s 14 stakes will offer a record total of $7.4 million in purses and KTDF supplements. Opening on the last day of August because of the way the calendar breaks, Kentucky Downs runs Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12. Kentucky Downs’ average daily purses topping $2 million a race card are the highest in North America and Europe.

“Having our first $1 million race is just the next logical step in Kentucky Downs’ ascent as a national leader,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “The Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup is our oldest stakes, having a different name but starting back in 1990 when the track opened. So it’s fitting this is our race that first reaches the seven-digit landmark, especially teaming with one of the most iconic names in horse racing in Calumet Farm.”

Eight stakes received purse hikes for the 2019 meet, including the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint from $500,000 to $700,000. Also getting a $200,000 increase was the 1 5/16-mile Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, now worth $600,000.

Five of the 12 eligible stakes carry Grade 3 status, including the 6 1/2-furlong Franklin-Simpson for 3-year-olds that achieved grading for the first time. Graded stakes, classified as Grade 1, 2 and 3, are those races adjudged by the American Graded Stakes Committee as the country’s best based on previous runnings. Only non-restricted stakes (not counting those limited to horses’ sex or age) can be graded.

The co-feature on the Sept. 12 closing-day card, the Franklin-Simpson purse is going from $300,000 to $500,000. Also raised to $500,000 from $400,000 are the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, Kentucky Downs Juvenile and the Ramsey Farm for fillies and mares. The $500,000 Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf and the $350,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks were both bumped up $50,000.

The free nominations for all 14 of Kentucky Downs stakes close Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Kentucky Downs 2019 stakes schedule
(Purses include KTDF supplements)
Saturday, Aug. 31 —  $750,000 Tourist Mile 3yos & up, mile; $500,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile, 2yos, mile; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, 2yo fillies, mile; $250,000 One Dreamer, fillies & mares 3yo & up (non-winners of a stakes in 2019), mile and 70 yards.  Thursday, Sept. 5 —  $250,000 Old Friends, 3yo & up (non-winners of a stakes in 2019, mile and 70 yards).  Saturday, Sept. 7 —  $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), 3yo & up, 1 1/2 miles; $700,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint “Win and You’re In” (G3), 3yo & up, 6 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), fillies & mares 3yo & up, mile; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3), fillies & mares 3yo & up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf, 2yos, 6 1/2 furlongs.  Sunday, Sept. 8 —  $600,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, 1 5/16 miles; $350,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks, 1 5/16 miles.  Thursday, Sept. 12 —  $500,000 Franklin-Simpson (G3), 3yos, 6.5 furlongs; $500,000 Ramsey Farm, fillies & mares 3yo & up, 1 5/16 miles.
Horsemen: All stakes nominations close Aug. 21
Checking in with: Calumet Farm winner Arklow
Donegal Racing's Arklow, winner of last year’s Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, runs in an allowance race Friday at Keeneland in his first start since finishing fourth against some of the world’s best turf horses in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Firmly on his 2019 dance card is trying to repeat in the Sept. 7 Kentucky Turf Cup, which this year will be worth $1 million.

Arklow spent three months in Ocala getting a break between seasons before rejoining trainer Brad Cox stable. The Keeneland race is designed as a prep for Churchill Downs’ 1 1/8-mile Old Forester Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“After that, we’ll determine if we’re going to stretch him back out, which I think probably is going to be our plan this summer,” Cox said. “Without a doubt the Calumet Farm is definitely a goal. He likes that turf course and that would be a stepping stone to the Breeders’ Cup, which hopefully is something we can get back to.

“He’s a little one-paced. He’s a hard-trying horse, a horse we’ve always felt like when they turn for home that he needs to be right there. However he gets there is up to him and the jockey. The mile and a half, there aren’t a lot of horses who can do that, but he can. It’s probably one of his better distances. He made a good showing in the Breeders’ Cup last year at Churchill. There were some good horses in there. He was beaten a ways, but we’ll see how he moves forward this year. His pedigree suggests he should get better with age. He’s a year older, so he’ll have to step forward.”

Arklow, a son of the stamina-influencing sire Arch, also was fourth in last year’s Old Forester, staged in a deluge of rain. “Obviously Derby Day was nasty last year as far as the rain and weather,” Cox said. “And he performed well. He’s a pretty solid horse. He’s consistent. He’ll run on soft going or firm turf.”
Arklow winning the 2018 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (Reed Palmer photo) ...
... and training in New Orleans for his 2019 debut at Keeneland (Jennie Rees photo)
Drink of the month for April: $5 Purple Rain
Final Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool April 5-7
At left: By My Standards joins the individual betting interests in the final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager after edging Spinoff in the $1 million Louisiana Derby under Gabriel Saez. Lou Hodges Photography

It's getting down to crunch time: Do you have your Kentucky Derby horse?

Let us help you find, follow, change (or all of the above) your Derby horse. The last Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool runs April 5-7, a span that includes Keeneland's Toyota Blue Grass , the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial . (Click race name for free Bris past performances)


Plus Que Parfait joins the Derby Future Wager after taking the $2.5 million UAE Derby. Dubai Racing Club/Erika Rasmussen
Maximum Security went wire to wire in the Florida Derby - and could be the one to catch at Churchill Downs. Coglianese Photography/Derbe Glass
We're now open 24 hours on weekends
Checking in with: Tourist runner-up Great Wide Open
(At left: Great Wide Open won the Fair Grounds' Buddy Diliberto Memorial under James Graham. Hodges Photography)

Great Wide Open, second in last year’s Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs, is preparing for Keeneland’s Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile on April 12. That’s the course over which the now 7-year-old horse last fall was second at 81-1 odds in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile won by Kentucky Downs’ Old Friends Stakes winner Next Shares.

Great Wide Open started strong this past winter, winning an allowance race at the Fair Grounds and the New Orleans track’s Buddy Diliberto Memorial.

“He won the Buddy D going a mile and a sixteenth, but a mile is definitely his best distance,” Murphy said. “He’s a horse that doesn’t like really firm turf. My plan after Keeneland is to turn him out, because there’s really nothing for him. I don’t want to run him on really firm turf. We definitely want to return to the Tourist Mile and the Shadwell as the main goals toward the end of the year.

“He’s better around two turns. It’s funny because it would sound like he’d be a one-turn mile horse, because they go quick early and he can come from off of it. But when the ground is really firm, it just doesn’t play to him. Kentucky Downs (at a mile) is one turn, but of course there’s a bit of cut in it. With the undulations there, they never go too quick (early).”

After the Buddy D, Great Wide Open was third in the Fair Grounds’ Colonel E.R. Bradley, finishing a neck out of second as he weakened late. A month later the 7-year-old gelding finished fourth in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap.

“In the Colonel Bradley, he got into a speed duel up front with Brad Cox’s horse (Pioneer Spirit) and they killed each other,” Murphy said. “In his last race, a mile and an eighth isn’t his game. But he was doing great, so we said, ‘Hey, let’s take a shot and it will set him up nicely for Keeneland.’ Very soft ground shouldn’t bother him. And at Keeneland, even if it’s better than ‘good,’ it won’t be too firm. His two races at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland were top drawer, then he came and won a couple in New Orleans. If he can go back to that level of form, he should be live.”

Murphy and jockey James Graham thought Great Wide Open would have been live in last fall's Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, but the gelding wasn't able to get into the overfilled field. “The fact that the ground was so soft and they didn’t go that quick that, we’d like to think we’d have been right there with any luck," Murphy said. "But we move on. No since crying over it."
Dimension embarking on career as dressage horse
(Photo at right: Dimension winning the 2017 Buddy Diliberto Memorial. Hodges Photography)

The Conor Murphy-trained and owned Dimension, winner of the 2014 Kentucky Downs Turf Dash (now the Turf Sprint) and who concluded his 9-year-old season with victory in the 2017 Buddy D, has retired from racing but not from competing. Murphy said assistant trainer Kirsten Fada is working with Dimension to make him a dressage horse.

“He hates doing nothing,” he said. “He needs to do something. Even when he was in his prime, if I gave him time off, he’d lose weight and didn’t do well. He likes to stay busy.” 

Dimension was the first horse Murphy purchased after turning a $75 wager placed four months earlier into more than $1.5 million by cashing in on five-race parlay at England's famed Cheltenham Festival in March of 2012. Winning that bet -- whose odds of hitting he has calculated at 1 in 64,000-- made it possible for Murphy to come to America and open his own racing stable.
Milkshake of month for April: Banana
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KENTUCKY DOWNS
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Kentucky Downs' five-date meet is the most unique in America, offering record purses, the largest fields and low takeout to be ranked the No. 1 betting product by Horseplayers Association of North America. We are open year-round, seven days a week for simulcasting and historical horse racing, which we are proud to use as a means for bettering the entire Kentucky racing circuit.
Newsletter edited by publicity director Jennie Rees.