Tuesday, September 3, 2019
How about a day featuring a 10-race program, purses of $1,310,000, and a jockey colony including Joel Rosario, Florent Geroux, Joe Bravo, Rafael Bejarano, Julien Leparoux, Tyler Gaffalione and Jose Ortiz, among others? Has to be Saratoga, or Del Mar, or Gulfstream, or Belmont, right?
Wrong on all counts! It would be Thursday's upcoming card at Kentucky Downs, highlighted by the $250,000 Old Friends Stakes, plus a maiden claimer with a purse of $53,000, a starter allowance ($42,000), four maiden specials ($130,000 each), an allowance ($145,100) and two allowance optional claimers ($150,000 each).
The meeting in southern Kentucky lasts just five days - it opened last Thursday with a record handle of $8.6 million. After this Thursday, the final three days will be Friday, Saturday and Sept. 12. Average daily purses of upwards of $2.3 million adds up to $11,532,000 for the five days.
This abbreviated meeting enjoys another unique facet. Each race is limited to 12 starters, but there are 16 entered in six of the races and 14 in the other four. While so many tracks around the country are starving for horses, this day at Kentucky Downs has 32 on the also-eligible lists.
And where does the money come from to add up to more than $11 million? For the rest of the year, Kentucky Downs features historical racing. Here's a breakdown of all the purses, and how much of the total is a result of the historical racing program. Maiden claiming - $42,930; starter allowance - $34,020; four maiden specials - $113,100 each; allowance - $124,700; two allowance optional claimers - $129,000 each. That's a total of $912,050.
Why don't other racing operators without a casino or poker room follow suit? As Yul Brynner might say, "It's a puzzlement."
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