January 2020 newsletter
Expanded holiday hours
Open 24 hours through New Year's Day
(closing at what's technically 3 a.m. Jan 2)
Our 2020 dates: Sept. 2, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13
  • We start New Year's Eve early and go late
  • No simulcasting Dec. 30 or Dec. 31
  • Gallop Magazine profiles Ky Downs
  • Tracksmith takes Woodchopper
  • Our Bay B Ruth knocks it out park
  • Career-leader Hernandez gets win #2,000
  • Bang-up promotions throughout January
  • More #KyDownsGrad updates: Chimney Rock, Mitchell Road, Captivating Moon
As you usher in 2020, here's a sure winner:
Spend New Year's Day at Kentucky Downs
and get our free souvenir wall calendar
  • Starting at noon CT, first 500 Players Club members get calendars with coupons for free play, with 10 lucky guests also winning up to $599 cash. Not a member? Join on the spot. It's free! (Calendars without coupons available in the simulcast area while supply lasts.)
  • Players Club members can win part of $10,000 on New Year's Eve; hourly drawings 9 pm-1 am
  • Live entertainment: Missy Garnett and the $2 Pistols Band plays Dec. 31 8:30 pm-1 am
  • We're open non-stop through New Year's Day night (what's technically 3 a.m. Jan. 2)
2020 Kentucky Downs souvenir wall calendar designed by track photographer Coady Photography with photos by Coady, Grace Clark, Harris Visual Media LLC and others.
There will be no simulcasting on Monday Dec. 30 or Tuesday Dec. 31. We apologize for any inconvenience. We will reopen for simulcasting at 9 a.m. on New Year's Day.
Gallop Magazine profiles Kentucky Downs:
"Surely this racetrack can't be in the U.S."
Turf journalist Ken Snyder profiles Kentucky Downs in the latest issue of the global horse-racing magazine Gallop. Writes Snyder: " If Kentucky Downs is a little slice of racing heaven in the milieu of today’s big-city tracks with multi-tiered grandstands, it also has a small slice of amazing history connected to it."
(Coady Photography photo)
#KyDownsGrad Tracksmith takes Woodchopper
Fair Grounds stakes recap (Hodges Photography/Jan Brubaker photo)

NEW ORLEANS --Calumet Farm’s lukewarm favorite Tracksmith -- second by a head to future Grade 1 winner Henley's Joy in the 2018 Kentucky Downs Juvenile in his second career start -- overcame a messy first turn to take the $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds Racecourse on Saturday, Dec. 28. Tracksmith is trained by Joe Sharp, who tied Ian Wilkes and Wesley Ward for the 2019 Kentucky Downs training title with four wins apiece at the five-date session.

Around the first turn, Tracksmith was forced out seven-wide by Irish Heatwave before settling into an outside stalking position. Turning for home, jockey Adam Beschizza let the 3-year-old son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense grind home. Tracksmith wore down Clint Maroon, then held off the tandem of Flying Scotsman and Spectacular Gem , who dead-heated for second. The winning margin was a half-length and race was clocked in 1:39.07 for the about one mile distance on the yielding turf.

“A rough beginning,” Beschizza said. “Luckily he was able to put himself in a good position afterward, and he’s very competitive and was ready to go today. Joe Sharp prepped him very well for this race, and for this horse I think it was a really impressive win considering the horses that were in it. Horses aren’t making up too much ground over this turf today but for the really good ones it’s not an issue.”

“One of the top five favorite horses I’ve ever had in my barn,” Sharp said. “Just an honest horse day in and day out. Shows up every day with his ears pricked and just ready to do his job. Mr. (Brad) Kelley and the (Calumet Farm) team has been patient with him and given him time to develop, and he’s paid them dividends. He’s a pleasure to train.”

Tracksmith now is 4 for 10 for earnings of $321,433. His three seconds include in his prior two starts, Churchill Downs' Jefferson Cup and Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf, which followed a fourth in the Grade 3 Virginia Derby. Tracksmith won Monmouth Park's $75,000 Frisk Me Now Stakes in July.

“I think a freshening is in order for him," Sharp said. "The John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes at Sam Houston will be a possibility next with him. I also think added distance won’t be an issue. We’re looking forward to watch him mature and grow, but for now we’re sure enjoying the process with him.”
Tracksmith captured the Fair Grounds' Woodchopper Stakes. Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir
Tracksmith (left) narrowly lost the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile in his second start in 2018. Reed Palmer Photography
Red-hot Our Bay B Ruth takes Tropical Park Oaks
Gulfstream Park stakes recap

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Our Bay B Ruth, an improving 3-year-old filly owned by Homewrecker Racing LLC and Summerplace Farm, made her stakes debut a winning one Saturday Dec. 28 when she drove home a neck winner over 31-1 shot Isla in the $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream Park.

A daughter of Candy Ride trained by Eddie Kenneally and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Our Bay B Ruth won for the fourth time in her last five starts, including a $150,000 allowance race at Kentucky Downs. In 10 career starts, Our Bay B Ruth has four wins, three seconds and a third-place finish. She covered 1 1/16 mile over turf rated good in 1:42.34 and paid $14.80 to win.

Our Bay B Ruth, who broke her maiden at Arlington in August and won under allowance conditions at Kentucky Downs and Churchill Downs, “is getting good,” Kenneally said.

“She’s won four of her last five,” he said. “She’s had a good year and we finally got some black type. Maybe she was a little immature last year. She’s grown up. She’s more grown up and relaxing more in her races, which has enabled her to finish better.”

Our Bay B Ruth broke well and raced fifth up the backstretch while Mexico’s previously unbeaten filly Letruska set fractions of :23.96 and :47.80. Entering the final turn Gaffalione moved Our Bay B Ruth to the outside behind Isla Road and moved three-wide entering the stretch. Despite a game effort by Isla Road it wasn’t enough to catch Our Bay B Ruth.

“She got a masterful ride from Tyler,” Kenneally said of the Kentucky Downs regular.

Gaffalione, who rode Our Bay B Ruth to a second-place finish at Churchill Downs in June and to a victory there last time out Nov. 9, said: “The first time I rode her I moved a little early. Last time Eddie said if I could wait just a little longer she’s got a nice kick. Just try to get her to relax. That day she finished nicely and we tried to do the same thing today."
Tyler Gaffalione guided Our Bay B Ruth to victory in Gulfstream Park's Tropical Park Oaks. Coglianese Photography/Ryan Thompson
Our Bay B Ruth, with Jose Ortiz up, won a Sept. 12 Kentucky Downs allowance race while en route to taking four of her past five starts. Coady Photography
KD career leader Hernandez wins 2,000th race
Fair Grounds release (Photo: Afleet Roger giving Brian Hernandez Jr. a milestone victory. Hodges Photography)

NEW ORLEANS -- Brian Hernandez Jr., Kentucky Downs’ all-time winningest jockey with 50, earned his 2,000th career victory Dec. 19 as the Jimmy Baker-trained Afleet Roger won a maiden-claiming race at the Fair Grounds.

Hernandez earned the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey in 2004, a year in which he first started riding in Kentucky on weekends that spring while riding and completing high school in his native Louisiana during the week. He finished the year with 243 victories and a high school degree, making Louisville his home ever since.
“When I first started, I never really thought I’d get to 2,000,” Hernandez told the Fair Grounds' publicity department. “It just started to get brought up and all of a sudden they were counting it down and I was getting closer and closer. To get to 2,000 is a cool milestone to have on a resume, now I just want to keep working hard and reaching for more.”
Hernandez, the eldest son of a longtime jockey in Louisiana, rode his first winner in 2003 at Delta Downs. His first graded stakes victory came aboard Cielo Gold in the 2006 Indiana Derby. Six years later, he guided the Ian Wilkes-trained Fort Larned to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“As a young rider you are just excited to go out there and win as many races as you can,” he said. “Even to this day, years later, it’s fun to go out and win. We just try to win as many races as possible,Pr and we’re always looking for the next top-level horse.”
Hey, Louisville fans! Stop by going to or from Monday's Music City Bowl. We're open round-the-clock through New Year's Day -- I-65 Exit 2
(Click on promotion for details)

Congrats to our grads
Chimney Rock, Mitchell Road, Captivating Moon
After 3 big seconds, Chimney Rock smokes 'em
Fair Grounds stakes recap (Hodges Photography photo)

NEW ORLEANS -- Three Diamonds Farm’s Chimney Rock had three close runner-up finishes in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint and Keeneland's Indian Summer. Back on dirt for the first time since a debut third in the slop in an off-the-turf race, Chimney Rock rolled to a 6 1/2-length victory over fellow Louisiana-breds in the Fair Grounds' $100,000 Champions Day Juvenile on Dec. 14.

Florent Geroux, Kentucky Downs' 2015-16 riding leader, rode Chimney Rock for Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs' career training leader whose four straight meet titles ended this year.

“The dirt was no question for the horse,” Geroux said after the race. “It was his first time on the (fast) dirt, but it he handled everything. He is a very talented horse."

Photos below: Chimney Rock finished behind Cambria (#4) in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint (Coady Photography) and behind Four Wheel Drive in the Breeders' Cup. (Eclipse Sportswire/Sam Navarro)
Milkshake of the month for January: Cherry pie
Mitchell Road takes Gulfstream's My Charmer
Gulfstream Park stakes recap (Photo: Coglianese Photography/Ryan Thompson)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL  – Mrs. J. V. Shields Jr. and E. J. M. McFadden Jr.’s Mitchell Road, second in Kentucky Downs' $500,000, Grade 3 Three Chimneys Ladies Turf, returned to her winning ways with a front-running victory in Gulfstream Park's $100,000 My Charmer Stakes on Dec. 14. Out of the same mare as adjudged Kentucky Derby winner Country House, Mitchell Road paid $2.80 to win by 1 1/2 lengths over 20-1 shot Take These Chains. Jose Ortiz, Kentucky Downs' two-time defending meet riding champion, rode the winner for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

“I was fairly confident," said Mott, Kentucky Downs' 2005 training champion. "She’s been doing well and, with respect to all the other horses, with the races she’s been running, (we thought) this maybe would be a little bit of class relief for her because she’s coming off really tough races. She’s run against the very best. It was the spot to get her back.

“We’ll see how she’s doing. Last winter she tailed off a little on us, and we had to give her a little time and then she came back nicely in the spring. She does well on this racetrack. We’ll probably try to run her back here.”
It was the sixth career win from 11 starts and third in five tries at Gulfstream for Mitchell Road as she snapped a four race-losing streak that followed her gate-to-wire triumph in the Gallorette (G3) May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.

"She was going really fast," Ortiz said, "but she has a lot of class, and she kept on going."
Pie of the month for January: Boston Cream
Buddy D: Captivating Moon holds off Space Mountain
Fair Grounds stakes recap (Photo: Brian Hernandez Jr. guides Captivating Moon to a soggy victory in the Fair Grounds' Buddy Diliberto Stakes. Hodges Photography)

NEW ORLEANS -- The Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes on Dec. 21 was rained off the turf, but the five horses who stayed in after eight scratches were all products of Kentucky Downs’ racing program. That includes Lothenbach Stables’ versatile Captivating Moon, who made a powerful move to the lead heading into the far turn and held off the late-charging Space Mountain for a 1 3/4 length victory in the slop under Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trained by Chris Block, Captivating Moon finished third in the 2018 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby — one of four thirds to go with six seconds in stakes races before earning his first stakes triumph in the Buddy D. Captivating Moon now has won two races on turf and two on dirt. He was cross-entered in the Tenacious Stakes scheduled for the main track, before Block opted for the off-the-turf stakes.

Space Mountain, trained by Kentucky Downs’ all-time leader Mike Maker, was third in Kentucky Downs’ $250,000 Old Friends Stakes before winning the $100,000 Remington Green in Oklahoma. The Buddy D. was his first race on dirt in more than four years.

Rounding out the Buddy D field were the Brad Cox-trained Factor This, a good fourth in the $1 million, Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup after taking Ellis Park’s Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup; Renaisance Frolic, fourth in a Kentucky Downs allowance race before reeling off three straight wins; and Great Wide Open, who won the 2018 Buddy D after finishing second in Kentucky Downs’ $750,000 Tourist Mile and in Keeneland’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile.
We're starting New Year's Eve party early!
Working over the holidays? So are we! Whatever your schedule, we'll be open round-the-clock through 3 a.m. New Year's Day night (Thursday Jan. 2)
Drink of month for January: $5 Orange Dreamsicle

More than $3 million paid out each month in Jackpots!
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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.