By Dick Downey
There are recaps of today's stakes racing at Kentucky Downs in a separate story, but here are some matters of interest from today's card as a whole.
The turf course was rated good, and a new rail bought by the track was out over 40 feet in the far turn and 30 feet in the stretch. As a result, the surface played very slowly throughout the day, especially the first half of the card when times were a good 10 seconds off track records. That's the equivalent of about 50 lengths.
Except for one race, nothing led wire-to-wire, and closers or stalkers from outside posts dominated, which is often the case when this track is holding water.
As the day progressed, loss of moisture in the track was reflected in the way the races were won. In the seventh race, the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, Ultima D led all the way down the long stretch to the finish line, becoming the first horse on the card to do that. In the eighth, the Tourist Mile, winner Applicator was never far back and led at the quarter-pole. In the ninth, the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Fillies -- say that three times fast -- Snapper Sinclair stalked just off the flank of the pacesetter en route to victory.
Runners that last competed at Saratoga dominated the winner's circle, winning five of the 10 races on the card. Horses from Arlington Park and Ellis Park won two times each, and Indiana Grand produced one winner.
Favorites didn't dominate, but they made their presence prominent in three races. Proud Reunion won the fifth. He's trained by Tom Proctor and was ridden by Feargal Lynch. The One Dreamer Stakes was the sixth on the card, and it produced favored My Impression from the Shug McGaughey barn and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. The ninth, won by Snapper Sinclair, had Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana, Jr. as the hands-on connections.
Different trainers won each race in this order: Larry Rivelli, William Harrington, Brendan Walsh, Ian Wilkes, Proctor, McGaughey, Wesley Ward, Mikhail Yanakov, Asmussen and Mike Maker. Before today, McGaughey had started only one horse at the track
Gaffalione and Lynch each won two races. The other six were won by James Graham, Julie Burke, Joe Rocco, Jr., Julio Garcia, Jose Valdivia, Jr. and Ricardo Santana, Jr.
The Jockey7 wager resulted in Gaffalione (68 points) in first place, the field in second (54), Robby Albarado in third (43) and Lynch in fourth (42). Total handle on the wager was lower than expected, a little over $8,000, but it was the wager's debut.
This opening day of the 2017 Kentucky Downs meet was held on a Wednesday after heavy rains forced a postponement last Saturday. Handle for the day was very good, especially for a mid-week card, totaling $4,633,176.That's up one percent from last year's opening day on Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Last year's closing day handle, which was on a Thursday, was $3,660.588.63, and average daily handle last year was $4,508.152. On-track handle was down significantly to $143,818.