February 2018 newsletter
Our 2018 live racing dates: Sept. 1,6, 8, 9 and 13
Hold the date! You're invited to our March 23 bash
celebrating Kentucky Downs' Grand Reopening
Kentucky Downs is throwing a party to celebrate completion of its extensive renovation. Nashville radio personalities Moose and Lunchbox will be there -- and we want you there, too!
The track’s Grand Reopening will be Friday, March 23 to show off the remodeling of the year-round entertainment center that also is America’s most unique horse-racing venue. The event -- for those at least 21 years old -- will feature free Kentucky Downs t-shirts to first 100 through the gate, other merchandise giveaways, live bands and radio remotes, the Cash Cube Machine and drawings for free play. Admission and parking are free.
“We will be ready to both exhale and celebrate that our extreme makeover has finally reached the finish line after more than a year, and we’re inviting everybody to join the party,” said Kentucky Downs director of marketing Amber Norris. “Our guests have experienced inconveniences with the construction, and this is one way to pay them back and rejoice in the new look of Kentucky Downs. The Grand Reopening will offer fun and something for everyone. You know it’s going to be a blast with Nashville on-air personalities Moose (of JackFM) and Lunchbox (of the Bobby Bones Show) mixing it up with the crowd. And if the weather is pleasant, people will be able to enjoy our outside terrace.” Complete press release
Roses in Bloom: Owner thinking Kentucky Derby
after 40-1 Snapper Sinclair almost wins Risen Star
At right: Much closer than it looks - Bravazo and Miguel Mena out-bobbed Snapper Sinclair, with Adam Beschizza up, in the Fair Grounds' $400,000 Risen Star. Photo by Amanda Hodges Weir.

Bloom Racing’s Snapper Sinclair, winner of Kentucky Downs’ $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile, showed he’s as adept on dirt as he showed on grass as a 2-year-old, finishing second at 41-1 odds in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on a head-bob and by the narrowest of lips to 21-1 shot Bravazo. The performance puts the City Zip colt on course to run back in the $1 million Louisiana Derby and entrenches him on the Kentucky Derby trail.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo that’s less and not been a dead-heat,” said Jeff Bloom, who heads the partnership that owns Snapper Sinclair, the first horse he’s had with Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. “What was so tough is he was in front, in front, in front — missed it — in front, in front. It was like the only time the other horse got the head bob.

“It’s two different sets of emotions. Because the first set is ‘Oh my gosh, Snapper absolutely validated himself. He ran a huge race, and we’re right there at the finish in the Risen Star.’ And afterwards, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, he deserved to get the photo; I sure hope he gets the photo.’ And then you don’t get it. So for a second you forget about how huge he ran and (it’s more) how devastating that you lost. But after you’ve had time to reflect, I’m not going to lie to you, the sting, the pain of losing that ridiculous photo hurts. But at the same time, there are a lot of fun and exciting things in his future and his progression and development is so impressive." Read more
Snapper Sinclair winning the $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile at Kentucky Downs under Ricardo Santana. Photos by Grace Clark, Reed Palmer Photography
Oscar Nominated stars as #KyDownsGrads fill 'tri'
in Gulfstream Park's G3 W.L. McKnight Handicap
Win! Oscar Nominated
Oscar Nominated led a surge of Kentucky Downs-raced horses to the wire of Gulfstream's Grade 3 McKnight Handicap, edging Nessy (blue silks) and Bullards Alley. (Coglianese Photography/Viola Jasko)
Place! Nessy
Show! Bullards Alley
Oscar Nominated, who gave trainer Mike Maker an unprecedented third consecutive victory in Kentucky Downs' Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, started his 5-year-old season with victory in Gulfstream Park’s W.L. McKnight Handicap (G3).

In fact, Oscar Nominated triggered a 1-2-3 finish for Kentucky Downs-raced horses, with Nessy a half-length back in second and Bullards Alley another nose back in third after 1 1/2 miles on turf Jan. 27. While Kentucky Downs 2017 riding champ Julien Leparoux won the Kentucky Turf Cup on Oscar Nominated, the horse was ridden at Gulfstream by Jose Ortiz. Leparoux rode Nessy for trainer Ian Wilkes.

The $1 all-Kentucky Downs trifecta returned $89.40.

Oscar Nominated, racing for Kentucky Downs' six-time defending leading owner Ken and Sarah Ramsey, also won the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby as a 3-year-old.

Nessy had finished seventh in the Kentucky Turf Cup, with 2016 runner-up Bullards Alley sixth. Bullards Alley in his next start won Woodbine’s Grade I Pattison Canadian International, with Oscar Nominated second. Nessy returned to finish second in Keeneland’s Sycamore (G3) won by 2017 Dueling Grounds Derby victor Big Bend.

Maker said Oscar Nominated will run back in Gulfstream’s $200,000, Grade 2 Mac Diarmida on the March 3 Fountain of Youth undercard. He could again face Nessy, along with the Tom Proctor-trained Big Bend, in the 1 3/8-mile stakes. Trainer Tim Glyshaw said Bullards Alley will skip the Mac Diarmida to await the 1 1/2-mile distance of the $250,000 Pan American (G2) on Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream.

Photos: (Above): Oscar Nominated keyed a Kentucky Downs trifecta in Gulfstream's McKnight Handicap, edging Nessy and Bullards Alley (Coglianese Photography). Below: Owner Ken Ramsey led Oscar Nominated and jockey Jose Ortiz into the McKnight winner's circle. (Coglianese Photography). Julien Leparoux guided Oscar Nominated to victory in Kentucky Downs' $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup. (Grace Clark)
March Madness: Horses & Hoops heating up
March is just around the corner, and Kentucky Downs offers the perfect venue to watch college basketball's postseason ($8 buckets of beer on game days throughout March Madness) as well as the lead up to the Kentucky Derby. We're your best bet to watch UK in the Southeastern Conference, Western Kentucky in Conference USA and U of L in the ACC tournaments along with key Derby preps such as Gulfstream Park's Fountain of Youth, Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes, Santa Anita's San Felipe and Turfway Park's renamed Jeff Ruby Steaks. Photo below: Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic is expected in the March 3 Fountain of Youth. (Breeders' Cup photo)
Play in our free weekly handicapping contests;
Details at kentuckydowns.com/racing/simulcasting
KD Turf Sprint winner Hogy going strong at age 9
You never want to get too far ahead of yourself when plotting out a schedule for a 9-year-old horse. But owner Michael Hui and trainer Mike Maker do have one spot firmly penciled in for Hogy: Kentucky Downs’ 2018 meet. Yet to be determined is which race.

Hogy won last year’s $400,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint after being claimed by Hui and Maker for $80,000 at Saratoga, getting the owner out on the gelding after only one start. Hogy earned his second victory for his new connections in Sam Houston’s $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint Stakes on Jan. 28. He was ridden by 2015-'16 Kentucky Downs riding champ Florent Geroux, who a day earlier won the $16 million Pegasus World Cup aboard Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

Hogy seems to relish Kentucky Downs and its 6 1/2-furlong Turf Sprint distance, also finishing second in the stakes in 2016 by a neck when trained by Scott Becker. But Maker said he’d like to try to stretch the gelding out to a mile this year and didn’t rule out that Kentucky Downs’ $400,000 Tourist Mile could be a possibility.

“Kentucky Downs is a race we’ll point to, but we’re going to try to stretch him out to a mile,” Maker said. “See if it gives us more options or if we’re drinking our bath water.”

The trainer clearly loves Kentucky Downs, with the three-time defending meet champion also the track’s all-time leader in wins (42) and earnings ($4.5 million). 

“After we first met, I got the very quick impression that (Kentucky Downs) is his Kentucky Derby,” Hui said. “He has success there. This past year, the horses I did claim or buy were focused on that meet.” Read more

(At top: Hogy won Sam Houston's $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint under Florent Geroux. (Coady Photography) Below right: Hogy won the Grade 3, $400,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Sprint, also under Geroux. (Grace Clark photo). Michael Hui (below left) claimed Hogy for $80,000 and then put up $100,000 to make the 8-year-old Breeders' Cup eligible.
Credit Dubai Racing Club Andrew Watkins
Dubai simulcasting
Bet the international cards from the United Arab Emirates' showcase Meydan Race Course on select Thursdays and Saturdays (March 1, 3, 10, 15 and 31), concluding with the $30 million Dubai World Cup program. Simulcast schedule. Meydan photo by Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins.
Follow our #KyDownsGrads on social media
Equibase StatsMaster Kentucky Downs stat: Trainer Mike Maker has won with 19 of 39 post-time favorites (49 percent) at Kentucky Downs the past five years, been in the money 69 percent and shows a 32% return on investment. You never know what you'll learn on Twitter @KyDownsRacing ! #LiveAtKyDowns
At right: Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen presents Mike Maker with his third straight trainer's title.
Da Big Hoss retired
Da Big Hoss, winner in 2015 and '16 of the Grade 3, $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, has been retired to stud at Poplar Creek Farm in Bethel, Ohio, not far from Cincinnati.

The 7-year-old horse -- a $50,000 claim three races before winning his first Kentucky Turf Cup, won seven stakes and almost $1.5 million for Skychai Racing before being sidelined with a leg injury as he prepared for his 2017 debut last spring.

“He was off more than a year, then he re-injured the leg and it was just one of those things," said Skychai founder Dr. Harvey Diamond. "It was not a life-threatening issue but a retirement issue, soft tissue. That soft tissue just doesn’t have good blood supply (to aid healing). Bone has super blood supply; tendons, ligaments just don’t have blood vessels that go to them.”

Da Big Hoss was sired by Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid and is out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. He won five graded stakes, set two course records and earned $1,551,696 million. All of Da Big Hoss' stakes victories came in his 12 starts for trainer Mike Maker for Skychai, with two of his defeats coming in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. That includes his last race in the 2016 Turf at Santa Anita.

“There was an article the Daily Racing Form describing his retirement and accomplishments,” Diamond said. “And when I read over that stuff, I go, ‘Wow, he really did that. And we were there for all of them.’ It’s hard enough just to get a horse to the starting gate, much less to get one to win and then one to win a stakes -- and then won to repeatedly win stakes. He has a pretty impressive CV and we found a nice place to stand him up in Ohio. "

In Da Big Hoss' absence, Skychai won a $75,000 starter-allowance at Kentucky Downs' 2017 meet with another $50,000 claim, Special Ops, who went on to win the $125,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at Gulfstream.
Photos above by Grace Clark and Reed Palmer Photography: (Top) Da Big Hoss won the 2016 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup under Florent Geroux. (Middle) His 2015 victory under Joe Rocco. Bottom: Skychai Racing's Harvey Diamond led his Big Hoss into the winner's circle in 2015.
Gun Runner got him Arrogate
Congratulations to Keith Riordan for winning the photo of Arrogate capturing the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic over California Chrome -- signed by jockey Mike Smith -- in the Pick the Pegasus contest that was part of Kentucky Downs' simulcast for the 2018 Pegasus World Cup. Riordan won the draw after selecting Gun Runner to prevail.
Our Rick Albright, racing development manager, made the presentation.
March promotions: On track for a good time
Live music from area bands Thursdays from 7-11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 8:30 pm-1 am, Sundays from 7-10 pm and select Wednesdays from 7-11 pm. Band schedule at http://kentuckydowns.com/gaming/entertainment.

Mad Money Mondays: Players Club members have a chance to win $100 cash at the top of each hour, between 12-3 pm and 6-9 pm by playing with club card. Double Points Tuesday: Players Club members can earn double points all day while playing with their card. Players Club members who win a taxable jackpot from Feb. 28- March 29 will receive an invitation to our Jackpot Party from 6-9 on March 30, with attendees receiving complimentary refreshments and an entry into exclusive cash drawings.

March drink of the month: $4 Jameson and ginger ale. We'll have $8 buckets of beer on game days during March Madness; $3 cocktails on National Absinthe Day, March 5; $4 green beer on St. Patrick's Day, March 17; and half-price on select whiskeys on International Whiskey Day, March 27. As usual: Happy hour every Monday through Friday 5-7 pm, with half-priced draft beer, well drinks, signature cocktails and select appetizers; Wine Down Wednesdays with $2 house wine all day. Our new bar is open!
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5629 Nashville Road, Franklin, Ky. 42134
Kentucky Downs' five-date meet is the most unique in America, offering record purse, 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.