Kentucky Downs Racing
Hall of Fame Jockeys. Race day Wednesday September 10, 2014 featured six of Thoroughbred racing’s all-time great jockeys for an autograph session and fundraising event for the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund. Participating jockeys were: Hall of Famers Calvin Borel, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Edgar Prado, and Randy Romero. Hall of Fame Trainer Jack Van Berg was also on hand, signing autographs and copies of his book: Jack, From Grit to Glory. Written by television horse racing analyst Chris Kotulak, the book is a biography of Van Berg, renowned trainer of Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner (ridden by Chris McCarron), winner of the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 1988 Horse of the Year. Van Berg is the fifth highest winning trainer of all-time, having saddled 6,426 winners to date. Read excerpts from his book at: www.jackfromgrittoglory.com.
The 10-race day belonged to potential future Hall of FamersRosie Napravnik and Julien Leparoux. Napravnik guided home four winners, and Leparoux was aboard an additional three. Napravnik’s wins came in race #2 (Holiday Drama), race #3 (Catalactic), race #6 (First Romance) and race #10 (Ventoux). Leparoux rode winners in race #1 (Expecting Cash), race #5 (Cool Comfort) and race #7 (Aripeka).
Calvin Borel came home first aboard Shake Up in the fourth race, marking his 38th career win at Kentucky Downs, tying him for first-place with Larry Melancon in all-time wins at the track.
Kentucky Turf Cup. Saturday September 13, 2014 featured the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup in what turned out to be a track record-setting day. The day’s four stakes races offered a combined purse of $1.2 million and Kentucky Downs set a record for wagering on the races at $4,253,567.
The Kentucky Turf Cup is the signature race of the track’s live race meet. Over a turf track of 1 ½ miles, it is for horses three years and up. In this year’s race, Suntracer broke through with a brilliant performance, holding off the late challenge from Pyrite Mountain to take the victory by a nose. War Dancer finished third and O’Prado Ole was fourth.
Bred and owned by Team Block and trained by Chris Block, Suntracer had not visited the winner’s circle since October 2012, although the six-year-old son of industry leading sire Kitten’s Joy had been hitting the board in graded stakes company at his home base of Arlington Park in Chicago, as well as Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Gulfstream Park and Calder.
Suntracer was ridden masterfully by French-born jockey Florent Geroux. He had Suntracer placed far back in the pack in the race’s early going, but made a winning move on the sweeping turn for home, took the lead in mid-stretch, and held off another closer, Pyrite Mountain for the photo finish victory. With the victory in Kentucky Downs’ richest race, Suntracer boosted his career earnings to over $795,000.
Ladies’ Day. Wednesday, September 17 was Ladies’ Day at the track, featuring an autograph session with Rosie Napravnik – the nation’s leading female jockey. Napravnik rode Mylute to third in the Preakness Stakes in 2013; she has posted 14 Graded Stakes wins in 2014 already.
The autograph session raised funds to benefit Old Friends Farm and Horses and Hope, a breast cancer initiative of the Kentucky Office of the First Lady and the Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP). Horses and Hope offers education, awareness, breast cancer screenings, and treatment referral for female Kentucky horse industry workers and their families. Old Friends, a Kentucky facility for retired Thoroughbreds located in Georgetown, KY, provides dignified retirement homes to 142 Thoroughbred horses whose racing and breeding careers have ended.
And, of course, what would a Thoroughbred racing Ladies’ Day be without a hat contest? All female fans visiting the track that day were invited to enter the contest, with $500 in prize money for the winners and each entrant receiving a gift bag.
Equine females were also in the spotlight, as the featured 9th live race was a six furlong allowance contest for three-year-old and older fillies & mares vying for the winner’s share of a $102,000 purse. Eleven fillies were entered in the very competitive race.
Pulling off the upset victory in front-running fashion was the Steve Hobby-trained Spring Included, a three-year-old daughter of Include, who clocked the six furlongs in 1:11.11 for her three-length victory. She is owned by JoAnn and Alex Lieblong and was ridden by Robby Albarado.
In the two additional six-figure allowance races, Alakazan Alakazan (Brz) won the $100,000 1 5/16th mile marathon on the grass for trainer Graham Motion and jockey Joe Rocco. County Corrections was an upset winner of a $100,000 six furlong sprint for trainer Joe Cowan and jockey Florent Geroux.
Closing Day. Wednesday, September 24, last day of the season’s live racing, featured the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon and the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash. Another autograph session was held, this time with Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, the rider of Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
The Kentucky Downs Turf Dash at 6 ½ furlongs was won by Dimension (GB), while the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon (run at a distance of 1 5/16 miles) was so popular with horsemen at the entry box (with a total of 23 entries) that it was split into two separate divisions, with the winners being White Rose (Tapit x Garden Dance, by El Prado) and Angel Terrace (Ghostzapper x Another Storm, by Gone West) respectively.
Receiving individual honors for the 2014 Kentucky Downs meet, Rosie Napravnik and Julien Leparoux tied for the leading jockey title with seven victories apiece during the five-day season. Wesley Ward earned his third leading trainer title at Kentucky Downs, saddling seven winners during the meet, including two victories on closing day. Kenneth & Sarah Ramsey were the leading owners for the second straight year, with four wins, three second place finishes and earnings of over $264,000.
Kentucky Downs features a European-style turf course, with subtle elevation changes, a sweeping turn into the stretch, and a quarter mile run from the end of the final turn to the finish line. The track is located at 5629 Nashville Road in Franklin, Kentucky, approximately 45 minutes northeast of Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, call (270) 586-7778 or visit www.kentuckydowns.com
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