Kentucky Downs: $2.4 Million Purses, Six Days of Racing
By Dick Downey
Kentucky Downs will award purses of over $2.4 million during its six-day meet after already contributing $600,000 to purse money at the recently-concluded Ellis Park meet. The Kentucky Downs meet opens Sept. 8.
In 2011, pursuant to an agreement with horsemen, purse distribution totaled $769,810 during a four-day meet at the Franklin, Ky. track that began just after Kentucky Downs opened its Instant Racing gaming to the public. Kentucky Downs pledged to make it up if the new gaming operation was successful. Profits from the devices have fueled this year's purse structure.
The Kentucky Downs stakes schedule consists of seven races with purses totaling $650,000, compared with three stakes offered for total purses of $250,000 last year. The Grade III Kentucky Cup Turf on Sept. 15 is the jewel of the stakes line-up. Maiden special weight races go for $60,000, more than any track in Kentucky so far this year. Allowance races will see $62,000 purses.
Kentucky Downs was first in the state to offer Instant Racing. Ellis Park unveiled its Instant Racing business Aug, 31, about a year after the Kentucky Downs start-up.
As reported earlier by Bloodhorse.com, during a July 10, 2012 meeting, a Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund advisory committee approved a request from Kentucky Downs to share with the state’s other tracks an estimated $800,000 in KTDF money from Instant Racing play. In addition to the $600,000 for Ellis Park meet, and there was to be a split of $200,000 among other Kentucky tracks.
“This whole situation came out of discussions we had in January and February, when it was just a theory,” Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen said in early July. “The thought was there is a unique need at Ellis Park to increase purses. Based on the number of horses that have stayed in Kentucky and the field sizes during the opening week at Ellis Park, I think it worked.”