Our 2020 dates: Sept. 2, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
  • Mad about March: horses and hoops
  • Stop by on way to, from SEC Tournament
  • Preds Watch Party on March 15
  • $374 #KyDownsGrad exacta in Big Cap
  • Lucky Loot! Go green with us March 17
  • Zulu Alpha: Three for the money
  • Silver Prospector hot on Derby trail
  • Ky Oaks: Finite rolls in Rachel Alexandra
  • Factor This rebounds in Fair Grounds
Kentucky Downs is mad about March
We're your place to enjoy hoops and horses
It's March and that means college conference basketball tournaments, the NCAA Tournament and Kentucky Derby preps. Catch all the action at Kentucky Downs. Have tickets to the Southeastern Conference Tournament March 11-15 in Nashville? We're right off I-65, Exit 2 in Kentucky, on your way down or back. Stop by before or after your team plays -- we're only a half-hour away! Kentucky Downs is open 9 a.m.-3a.m. Central Wednesday-Thursday and non-stop 9 a.m. Friday until long after the SEC championship game (in fact, we don't close on the weekend until 3 a.m. Monday, March 16). Catch the March 14 Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn and Jeff Ruby Steaks from Turfway Park, the March 21 Louisiana Derby and March 28 Florida Derby and Dubai World Cup. SEC men's basketball tournament bracket below courtesy NCAA.com
Nadal: 3/14 Rebel Stakes
Benoit Photo
Modernist: 3/21 La. Derby
Hodges Photography
Été Indien: 3/28 Fla. Derby
Coglianese Photography
Kentucky Downs: More ways to score!
Jumpshot JAMboree is your chance to win CASH, FREE PLAY and much more through Kiosk Games on Friday and Saturdays and drawings on Sundays in March. For the Kiosk game, just earn 10 points that day to be eligible for the game on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Sunday drawings at 7 pm, 9 pm and 11 pm feature chances to win $2,500 in cold, hard cash every drawing.
$374 #KyDownsGrad Grade 1 exacta!
Combatant outduels Multiplier in Big Cap
Photo: Combatant, shown being led onto the Kentucky Downs turf course in this Grace Clark photo, was second by a nose in a $150,000 allowance race last fall. Sold later two months later, Combatant won Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap for his new connections.

Combatant became the 21st horse who raced at Kentucky Downs in the last 10 meets to go on to win a Grade 1 stakes, taking Saturday’s $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap under Joel Rosario. Finishing a neck back in second was 33-1 shot Multiplier, another #KyDownsGrad who rounded out a $374 payoff for the $2 exacta in the seven-horse field.

Then owned by Kentucky Downs co-managing partner Ron Winchell and Willis Horton, Combatant was second by a nose in a $150,000 allowance race at last fall’s meet. Multiplier was sixth of 11 in Kentucky Downs’ Old Friends Stakes.

According to Equibase statistics, Combatant also is the 126th horse to have raced at Kentucky Downs during the last 10 meets that went on to win any kind of graded stakes.

It was Combatant’s first stakes victory, though he had three seconds and four thirds in prior stakes. He was sold for $220,000 at Keeneland’s November sale days after a second-level allowance victory at Churchill Downs. The “Big Cap” was Combatant’s second race for new owner Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, who had the favorite for the Santa Anita Handicap in 2019 winner Gift Box only to have to scratch that horse over concerns about some swelling in an ankle the morning of the race. Instead, Combatant gave Sadler a record third consecutive victory in the storied stakes. He paid $21.20 to win as the fifth choice.

"Obviously we wanted to run Gift Box,” Sadler said. “This horse we were considering somewhere else, but I put him in as an insurance policy. He trained really well and it looked like he had no distance limitations to me, so I thought it was a good chance to try him. He's got some pretty good races on his form. He won his last start at Churchill before he came out here. We put some blinkers on him, did some minor changes, and he has responded well.”

Photos: Joel Rosario guides Combatant to victory over the gray Multiplier and favored Midcourt (#5) in Saturday's $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap. Benoit Photo
Join us March 17 for St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day is your chance to get lucky at Kentucky Downs from 9 AM Central to midnight. Just earn 10 points to be eligible for the Lucky Loot kiosk game, where everyone is a winner. Prizes range from $5 FREE PLAY to $1,000 CASH! Also join us for $4 Green Beer and $7 Irish Car Bombs that day at Kentucky Downs!
(To our friends who received a Kentucky Downs wall calendar: No, we didn't change the date for St. Patrick's Day festivities. That was a print error. We indeed are celebrating March 17.
Zulu Alpha: Three for the money
Next objective: Old Forester Turf Classic
$1 million, G3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup. Coady Photography
$1 million, G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf. Coglianese Photography
$200,000, Grade 2 Mac Diarmida. Coglianese Photography

Zulu Alpha, winner of the first $1 million race ever at Kentucky Downs, earned his sixth stakes victory in 13 races since being claimed for $80,000 by owner Michael Hui of Little Rock, Ark. Most recently, the 7-year-old gelding repeated his 2019 triumph in Gulfstream Park's $200,000, Grade 2 MacDiarmida on Feb. 29. That came after Zulu Alpha recorded his first Grade 1 victory in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park, where he now is four-for-five lifetime.

The Mac Diarmida's purse of $119,040 pushed Zulu Alpha up above $2 million, bumping his earnings to $2,021,714. Of that, $582,800 came in taking the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup over 2018 winner Arklow in the first $1 million race ever staged at Kentucky Downs.

Under Kentucky Downs regular Tyler Gaffalione, Zulu Alpha ran near the back of the nine-horse field early before sweeping to the lead on the far outside around the turn and outrunning a game Admission Office by a length to the wire.
It was a different trip than last time for even-money favorite Zulu Alpha, who skimmed the rail all the way around to win the Pegasus World Cup Turf by two lengths.

“He's incredible," Gaffalione said. "He just gives you so much confidence and he's so fun to ride. It was great because coming down the stretch for the first time I looked at the infield screen, I saw 23 [seconds opening fraction] and I was smiling. I knew they were setting a nice tempo in front of me so I wasn't too worried."

Zulu Alpha's camp is looking at $1 million races the rest of the season: Churchill Downs' 1 1/8-mile Old Forester in the race held immediately before the Kentucky Derby, Chicago's 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million, the 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Turf Cup and the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland, whose purse recently was boosted $2 million to $6 million. Zulu Alpha ran a huge race to finish fourth in last year's Turf at Santa Anita.

Hui said Zulu Alpha responded well to time off at Upson Downs farm in Oldham County outside of Louisville after the Breeders' Cup and has responded even better to his training upon his return to the track.

"He's adding muscle like crazy," the owner said. "He's come back and just thrived. He was tall and kind of gangling when I claimed him. Now he's turned into Godzilla."

In the Grade 1 Old Forester (until last year the Woodford Reserve), Zulu Alpha will be racing as short as 1 1/8 miles for the first time in 12 races.

"That's Mike," Hui said of trainer Mike Maker targeting the Old Forester. "We were talking spots, and he asked my preference between the Derby Day race and the Elkhorn, and we know he likes Keeneland. I said, 'You pick the spot. I just want to run in the fall in Kentucky.' One race is $250,000, one is $1 million. Mike said they'll probably attract about the same level of horse and doesn't think nine furlongs will be an issue after the (1 3/16-mile) Pegasus. Mike kind of summed it up that if he didn't win again after the Pegasus, it's been a pretty good year."

One landing spot where no discussion was needed is Kentucky Downs, where Maker is the all-time win leader and which Hui makes a priority to claim horses for every year. To put it in perspective, Hui is a huge supporter of University of Arkansas football. The Razorbacks play at Notre Dame on Sept. 12. Hui will be at Kentucky Downs.

Not only does that show how much he loves America's most unique race meet, Hui observed, "There's no $1 million purse at Notre Dame."
March your way to cash & free play! Click on above images for details
March pie of the month: Chocolate Meringue
We don't produce just grass horses!
#KyDownsGrads in pursuit of 3yo classics
Silver Prospector, Finite roll in prep races
Silver Prospector wins Southwest; Rebel up

Ricardo Santana Jr. guides Silver Prospector to victory in Oaklawn Park's $750,000 Southwest Stakes. Coady Photography photos

Ed and Susie Orr’s Silver Prospector , who ran on the grass last September in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, stamped himself as a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby with a one-length victory over Wells Bayou in Oaklawn Park's $750,000, Grade 3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17. The big effort followed his fourth-place finish in Oaklawn's opening-day Smarty Jones in the slop.

"We had a lot of information that he was doing good," Ed Orr said of his silver colt, who also won last fall's Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. "We were disappointed in the fourth-place finish in the Smarty Jones and thought that we could have done better there. We've learned a long time ago in this business to not get your hopes too high because they can be shot down pretty fast.”

Silver Prospector broke near the back of the field but was eager to run and moved into third through the first turn as Wells Bayou led through fractions of :22.89 and :46.60 for the first half-mile. The winner moved closer to the front entering the home stretch and wore the down the pacesetter to win in 1:43.01 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Silver Prospector now has won three of eight starts.
“His position was by design," Steve Asmussen, Silver Prospector's Hall of Fame trainer, told Oaklawn's publicity department. "I thought he got a little too far behind in the Smarty Jones. He was in good position all the way."

The last two weeks the horse was training unbelievable!" said jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. "We didn't get any rain so the track was just how he liked it. He put me in a great spot the first quarter, and I just became his passenger.”
Next up: Saturday's $1 million Rebel Stakes on March 14.

Does Finite have a limit? Not in Rachel Alexandra!

Winchell Thoroughbreds and J. R Thomas’  Finite  brought a four-race win streak in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, spanning victory on turf in a Kentucky Downs' maiden race and three subsequent stakes. But favoritism in the Rachel Alexandra went to British Idiom , the unbeaten 2-year-old filly champion making her first start since the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. One and sixteenth miles later, Finite had won the 4 3/4 lengths over the champ.

Finite found herself in a clear, stalking position behind the front-running  His Glory  through honest fractions of 24.20 and 47.92. Inching closer while three-wide on the turn for home, she took command at the top of the stretch and extended her advantage to the finish line while wrapping up matters in 1:43.97.

“She was really ready and cranked for today,” jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. said. “I knew turning for home I had a lot of horse under me. She responded right when I asked her and she’s just such a fighter.”

The Winchell homebred daughter of Munnings earned 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. She now sits atop the leaderboard with 70. 

“I think that last race (a neck victory Silverbulletday) put us in this position,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of the dominant performance. “This race has obviously been a producer of really nice fillies and I think we have something to work with now. She’s always been a really game filly who has shown a lot of heart.

".. I thought the key to it was that she was away cleaning and in Ricardo's hands the entire way," Asmussen continued. "She did get a little bit of a freshening off the Golden Rod and before the Silverbulletday. I thought she was a little anxious in the paddock before the Silverbulletday, and she ran well. This time of the year with the 3-year-olds, you need to be better next time. She is better today than she was in the Silverbulletday, and she will need to continue to improve to end up where we want. And that's with her winning the Kentucky Oaks."

Asmussen won the Rachel Alexandra for a fifth time. Four of those victories have come with Winchell homebreds and two of those, Untapable (2014) and Summerly (2005), went on to win the Kentucky Oaks. Like Untapable and Summerly, Finite is targeting the $400,000, Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.

"She got it done a little easier," breeder and majority owner Ron Winchell, who also is co-managing partner of Kentucky Downs, said after the Rachel Alexandra. "We were hoping she'd step up this race. But racehorses, they don't do what we expect them to a lot of times. So it was nice she was able to get that done. We're trying to repeat for the third time. We did the same path here with the Rachel Alexandra with the other two horses. Obviously we're trying to do the same thing."

Finite, with Ricardo Santana Jr., dominated the Rachel Alexandra. Hodges Photography
March milkshake of the month: Pina Colada
Lead-loving Factor This takes Fair Grounds Stakes

Gaining Ground Racing's Factor This, who finished a competitive fourth after setting the pace in Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, captured the $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes on Feb. 15 in New Orleans. Ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan for trainer Brad Cox, Factor This again set the pace and had plenty of energy to hold off classy favorite Synchrony by a length. The 5-year-old gelding came into the Fair Grounds Stakes off a pair of thirds in stakes in New Orleans.

"He's a hard trying horse, and you just love horses that put it all out there," Bridgmohan said, adding of the Colonel Bradley Stakes, "Even last time, he ran fast and hung in there really hard. He's a cool horse to ride. It's very gratifying because he tries so hard and you like to see horses like that win.:

"When I turned for home, I certainly had a lot of horse. He's a front-runner and he knows to ration himself. He doesn't like a horse in front of him, but if he gets a comfortable lead, he knows how to moderate himself."

It was Factor This' first victory since taking Ellis Park's $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup, after which he was fourth in Kentucky Downs' signature race.

"He ran a big race at Kentucky Downs to be fourth going a mile and a half," Cox said. "That's really not his thing, beyond his best distance. I think he's more a mile and an eighth, mile and a quarter horse tops. Very honest horse. Last time there was a lot of pace in the race, and he likes to be forwardly placed. He got a great trip today. Shaun understood the pace scenario, took advantage of that and it worked out well. He had an extremely good set up. Our horse was fit and had been running and obviously that horse was coming off a bit of a freshening. I was very proud of the effort, and expected a big one out of him. He'd been training well."

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.