Final Day Yields Record Numbers
Al's Gal Wins Ladies Marathon for Repeat Meet Leaders
By Dick Downey
Photos by Reed Palmer/Kentucky Downs
Today's Headlines: Al's Gal Wins Ladies Marathon; Ramsey's, Maker, Geroux Win Titles Back-to-Back Years; Handle Exceeds $22 Million; Purses Exceed $7.8 Million
All-Sources Handle Record
Today's all-sources handle was $3,660.588.63, bringing the five-day, 50-race total to $22,540,761.22. That eclipses last year's five-day, 48-race total of $16,887,188, which was a record at the time, by $5,653,573, an increase of 33.48 percent.
On track handle this year was $929,409.10, up an impressive 47.96 percent over last year and a new record.
“One of our goals is to be on the cutting edge of innovation in our industry,” track president and co-owner Corey Johnsen said. “We have an advantage because we race only five days and we can be like a laboratory, do things and hopefully other tracks carry on. I think the best example is takeout. We led the way and now a number of tracks have lowered takeout.
“This is a little anecdotal, but I have never heard so many people who traveled to from all over North America to see our races,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “I mean, from California, Florida, Maryland. I can’t tell you how many people said they had heard about Kentucky Downs and wanted to see it in person. Everyone on our staff ran into people who had traveled thousands of miles to get here.”
New Purse Record
Purses distributed at the meet set a new record of $7,885,979. This includes overnight purse money of $2,275,000, stakes purses $1,825,000, Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund $3,600,229 and added money from entry fees $185,750.
“I have heard nothing but favorable comments from the horsemen about, of course, the purse money, but even more importantly the safety of the racetrack. They continue to make improvements down there that make it a really great experience for the racing fan,” said Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
Field Sizes Tops in Nation
A total of 548 horses ran in 50 races for an average field size of 10.96, the largest in the United States.
Meet Titles and Multiple Winners
Jockeys: Florent Geroux, the leading jockey, had one win today and 12 at the meet, the same figure as his meet-leading total last year. Brian Hernandez, Jr. won two races on closing day, bringing his meet total to seven. He finished second in the standings.
“It’s a great meet to win,” Geroux said. “You have to make sure you get off to a good start, and I was lucky enough to ride live horses right off the bat and secure the title. I just wish the meet was a little bit longer. It’s a fun place to ride, especially when you have the horses. People like it, it’s lots of money, and it looks like it’s safe for the horses as well.”
Trainers: Mike Maker won his eighth race of the meet, including five stakes, and the trainer title for the second straight year. He also won eight races last year. Christophe Clement and Rusty Arnold each had three wins to tie for second. Joe Sharp broke his maiden with two wins today. Also scoring multiple wins were Ian Wilkes, Steve Asmussen, Pavel Vashchenko and Larry Rivelli with two apiece.
“It’s a meet we point for,” said Maker. “It was a great meet even if we’d only won the stakes.”
Owners: Ken and Sarah Ramsey won two races today, pushing their meet-leading total to six wins. They won four races last year when they also captured the title.
“Like Muhammad Ali said, if you don’t back it up, it’s bragging,” Ken Ramsey said. “But if you do it, different category. Mark Partridge (Ramsey’s farm manager) called me a week or two before Saratoga was over and said, ‘Are we going for the owner’s title at Saratoga?’ We actually could have sent up two more loads of horses. I said, ‘No, we’re starting on the campaign to win the owners’ title at Kentucky Downs.’”
Where They Raced Last
Tracks where winners at the meet last raced: Ellis Park 17 winners at Kentucky Downs, Arlington Park 12, Saratoga 9, Indiana Grand 3, Mountaineer and Laurel 2 each, Parx, Woodbine, Monmouth and Keeneland 1 each, and there was 1 winner making its debut.
“I was really pleased what they did for the industry, helping out Ellis Park (with $1.35 million in purse money) instead of keeping it in their own left hip pocket,” Ramsey said. “They took money out of their own till and put it over there. They didn’t have to do that. There’s nothing in the rule book that says you have to help a competitor, but it helps the Kentucky circuit.”
“That’s just wonderful. That just shows the quality of the Ellis Park horses has improved, because obviously the quality of Kentucky Downs, with its purses, has improved immensely,” said Maline, executive director of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “That’s what we and Corey were working for when we re-channeled that money to Ellis: to try to once again re-establish a circuit.
Day 1 All Sources Handle: $4,603,239.82
Up 26 percent over 2015
Day 1 On-Track Handle: $238,118.10
Up 50 percent over 2015
Day 2 All Sources Handle: $4,019,637.14
Cannot be compared to rain-shortened day 2 in 2015
Day 2 On-Track Handle: $137,155
Day 3 All Sources Handle: $5,769,505.23
Up 25.33 percent over record set on Sept. 3
Day 3 On-Track Handle: $214,467.40
Impacted by rain that fell after race 6
Day 4 All Sources Handle: $4,487,790.40
New meet record $18,880,172.59
Closing Day All-Sources Handle $3,660,588.63
On Track $171,564.40
New Record Total $22,540,761.22
Up 33.48 percent from 2015
Race 1. Claiming N2L $30,000, 3YO & up, $40,000, 6 1/2 Furlongs
Winner: Hoosier Zip, followed Deep Explorer, Perfect Saint and Tiger Paw
Trainer: Michael Lauer
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Owner: Penny S. Lauer, Barry Ward and Jack Danehy
Payoffs: $46.20, $18.80, $11.60
The opening race of the final-day card produced big payoffs; the $2 exacta returned $790, and the 10-cent superfecta paid $918.93. Hoosier Zip led leaving the turn and held off all comers. He won after breaking his maiden last time out in his seventh start. It was the third win of the meet for jockey Prat and the first for trainer Lauer.
Race 2. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies 2YO, $130,000, 6 Furlongs
Winner: Deer Valley, followed by Shes Trickey, Blaze Star, Oh So Terrible
Trainer: Tom Proctor
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Owner: Glen Hill Farm
Payoffs: $16.60, $7.00, $6.00
It was a Tom Proctor exacta as 7-1 Deer Valley edged 2-1 favorite Shes Trickey. Oh So Terrible led into the stretch and was overcome about midway down the lane but hung on to finish fourth. Deer Valley was beaten 14 lengths in his dirt debut at Laurel Park. Trainer Proctor got his first win of the meet, and jockey Van Dyke got his second from seven starters.
Race 3. Claiming $40,000, 3YO & up, $55,000, 1 Mile 70 Yards
Winner: Abtaal, followed by Crewman, Compass Stone and Bold Rally
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Joe Rocco, Jr.
Owner: Brad Grady
Payoffs: $10.60, $6.20, $5.00
Abtaal outlasted his opponents in a close finish with 50-1 Crewman second. The winner last raced at Saratoga, the ninth winner of the meet to do so. Joe Sharp procured his first win from 13 starters at the meet, and jockey Rocco got his first win of the meet, too, from 25 runners. A fifth of a second faster, and Abtaal would have tied the track record.
Race 4. Maiden Special Weight, 2YO, $130,000, 6 Furlongs
Winner: Sonic Boom, followed by Quality Emperor, Mongo Nation and Unmoored
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Owner: Lothenbach Stables LLC (Robert J. Lothenbach)
Payoffs: $21.80, $11.20, $5.00
Sonic Boom won after a 13 3/4-length loss on dirt in his Ellis Park debut. Trainer Wilkes won his second race from 12 starters here, and jockey Hernandez, who often teams with Wilkes, was up. The final time was just 35/100 off the track record.
Race 5. Maiden Special Weight, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $130,000, 1 Mile
Winner: Miner's Cat, followed by Sardinia, Chamade and Brisson
Trainer: Charles LoPresti
Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Owner: The Robert B. and Beverly J. Lewis Trust (Beverly J. Lewis)
Payoffs: $20.20, $9.20, $8.80
Miner's Cat broke his maiden in his fourth start, and like Sonic Boom won from post 1. Jockey Hernandez recorded his second consecutive win today and seventh overall at the meet, putting him four wins behind meet leader Florent Geroux.
Race 6. Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500 N2X/N3L, 3YO & up, $145,000, 6 Furlongs
Winner: Mongol Bull, followed by Serious Talk, Nubin Ridge and Zandar
Trainer: Brad Rainwater
Jockey: James Graham
Owner: Brad Rainwater
Payoffs: $10.60, $4.60, $4.60
It's a monetarily efficient moment if you're both the winning owner and trainer, and the little-known Bradlee Rainwater filled the bill. The track is playing fast. Mongol Bull became the fifth horse today to be timed within a second of a track record. It was the first win for Mongol Bull since June 2015.
Race 7. Maiden Special Weight, 2YO, $130,000, 1 Mile
Winner: Kitten's Cat, followed by Colonel Samsen, Holly Field and Silent Drifter
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Miguel Mena
Owner: Ken and Sarah Ramsey
Payoffs: $7.00, $3.60, $2.60
Ken Ramsey is here today and took a familiar spot in the winner's circle after Kitten's Cat burst to the lead in the stretch. It was the owner's fifth win this year, and he had two more good prospects coming up. Colonel Samsen ran a little greenly and had a bit of a tough trip but still got the runner-up spot. Kitten's Cat is the 16th horse to win here this year that last raced at Ellis Park.
Race 8. Allowance N1X/N2L, Fillies and Mares 3YO & up, $140,000, 1 Mile
Winner: Moms Choice, followed by Walking the Kitten, Snow Mesa and Anythingyoucando
Trainer: Larry Rivelli
Jockey: Jose Valdivia, Jr.
Owner: Patricia's Hope LLC (Vince Foglia)
Payoffs: $9.40, $4.00, $3.00
Mom's Choice was one of two horses prominent throughout. Kitten's Cat finished up well to get second, and the other horse up front early finished third. Trainer Rivelli won for the second time from three starters at the meet. The winnner was the 11th at the meet to last race at Arlington Park.
Race 9. Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon Stakes, Fillies & Mares 3YO & up, $350,000, 1 5/16 Mile
Winner: Al's Gal, followed by Paige, Oakley Girl, Trophee
Trainer: Mike Maker
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Owner: Ken and Sarah Ramsey
Payoffs: $3.40, $2.60, $2.40
Al's Gal delivered at 3-5 odds, and Florent Geroux got his 12th win, tying the mark he set last year/ Mike Maker trained his eighth overall winner and fifth stakes winner of the meet. Ken Ramsey and those two won the owner, jockey and trainer titles for the second consecutive year. Of the $350,000 purse, $200,000 was Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund money. Since Al's Gal is a Pennsylvania-bred, she was running for $150,000. Mr. Ramsey said that was just fine.
Race 10. Starter Allowance $10,000, 3YO & up, $50,000, 1 1/2 Mile
Winner: Aroney, followed by Woodmans Luck, Solar Flair, Buck Benny
Trainer: David Vance
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Owner: Hotty Toddy Racing, LLC (Heather and Albert Tutor)
Payoffs: $11.40, $5.20, $3.40
Aroney is hickory, winning the meet finale in his 75th career start. He was the 17th horse to win here after last racing at Ellis Park -- over one-third of the winners.