By Dick Downey
(Franklin, KY) – The first day of the Kentucky Downs’ 2012 meet saw handle skyrocket by every measure.
Wagers made on-track increased from $84,753 in 2011 to $124,739, a 47% increase. Total handle jumped from $776,898 on last year's first day to $1,363,682, an increase of 75%.
Overnight rains put the all-turf track -- and the horses competing over it -- to task. Initially rated good, stewards changed the rating of the surface to yielding after the first two races produced slow times and some horses labored over the giving ground.
The feature race of the day saw Miz Ida, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, furiously charge down the center of the course to overtake Ridgester for the win in the $75,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf. It was quite an improvement over this time last year for the jockey. On last year's opening day, he was dismounted after Formaggio clipped heels in the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup -- knocking out some of his teeth. Steve Margolis trains Miz Ida.
Depeche Chat won the $75,000 Franklin-Simpson Mile. Trained by Rusty Arnold, he was ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Good Lord, who set back-to-back track records coming into the race, won the $75,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Dash for owners Doug Shank and Stan Young of nearby Bowling Green. Gabriel Saez was the winning rider for trainer Forrest Kaelin.
“It was a terrific day of racing,” said Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen. “We’re pleased that we’re now in a position to put on races like these, with attractive purses for the horsemen and exciting horses for the fans. Overall, it was very encouraging.”
With Instant Racing gaming having been in place at Kentucky Downs for a year, officials had the wherewithal to increase its purses 220% from 2011 levels, to more than $2.4 million for the six-day meet. This resulted in large fields and good stock competing at the track.
Miz Ida, the Ladies Turf winner, is a 3-year-old filly that beat her elders. It was her third stakes victory -- and her fourth in five outings with Bridgmohan riding. After an opening half-mile in :52.28, Miz Ida trailed all but one in the field of 11. She made a big move in the turn and came home in the center of the wide stretch, completing the mile in 1:50.46. Ridgester was 3 3/4 lengths back in second with Affair Dabbler another three lengths back in third.
“She’s just a wonderful filly,” Bridgmohan said. “The only time we got beat, it was probably my fault because I had her too close to the pace (in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill), but when you let her do what she wants, she has such a powerful punch. . . . With the long stretch here, I wasn’t surprised that she beat these older horses, because she really comes running.”
According to Kentucky Downs officials, Miz Ida was named after a Holocaust survivor by owners Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein of Louisville.
In the Turf Dash, Good Lord came from sixth to win by 2 1/4 lengths, timed in 1:18.58 for six furlongs. Good Lord was sent off at 6-1 due to haivng an off-the-board finish in his only previous turf start. Icon Ike finished second, 6 1/4 lengths ahead of Will’s Wildcat. Noble’s Promise, the 2-1 favorite, led into the stretch but faded to fourth.
Depeche Cat was a 13-1 longshot winner in the Franklin-Simpson Mile. Depeche Chat closely stalked the early leader, Ratatat, and then sprinted clear in the stretch, winning by 6 1/2 lengths while completing the mile in 1:51.20. It was the second win of the day for both Arnold and Hernandez.
Racing resumes Monday at Kentucky Downs with an eight-race program. The other four race days are the following Wednesday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. First post time is 1:35 p.m. central time each day.
Turf Dash: Equibase chart
Franklin-Simpson Mile: Equibase chart
Ladies Turf: Equibase chart