Blink and You'll Miss It! Kentucky Downs All-Turf Racing Season Starts on Aug. 31

Profile Picture: Noel Michaels

August 27th, 2019

Blink and you'll miss it! High stakes turf racing is returning to Kentucky Downs, but you'll have only five racing days over the course of just two weeks to get in on the racing and wagering at the turf-only oasis located within shouting distance of the Kentucky-Tennessee border not far from Nashville. Kentucky Downs is home to a 1 5/16-mile turf course featuring a non-oval shape and undulations up and down hills. With subtle elevation changes throughout the course, a sweeping turn into the stretch run, and a quarter-mile dash from the end of the final turn to the finish line, racing at Kentucky Downs is unique in North America. The 2019 Kentucky Downs meet consists of five dates – Aug. 31, Sept. 5, Sept. 7, Sept. 8 and Sept. 12. Expect big fields for all five days because Kentucky Downs leads the nation in average field size at 11 starters per race. Why are all the horses and horsemen there, you ask? Well, it's the purses of course. Kentucky Downs leads the nation with average daily purses of $2.3 million, for a total of $11.5 million in purse payouts for the meet. If rich purses and large fields are not enough reason for handicappers to get involved with betting Kentucky Downs, then the low takeout rates should be. Kentucky Downs features the lowest blended takeout rate in the country, with exactas at 18.25%, plus 16% for WPS, and 19% on nearly every other bet such as Trifectas, Superfectas, Daily Doubles, the Pick 3, Super Hi5, and Pick 6. Popular bets like the Pick 4 and Pick 5 have 14% takeouts. The track will host 14 stakes, including five graded stakes – the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), the Turf Sprint (G3), the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3), and the newly-graded Franklin-Simpson (G3). A significant portion of the daily purse distribution goes to Kentucky Downs' $4 million stakes program, but the overnight purse structure is also very high at all levels. Maiden special weights run for $130,000 purses (including KTDF money), and claiming races will run for a purse of $55,000. The bottom level starter allowance races at the meet will run for $42,000 purses. The track with also host a quartet of Claiming Crown Preview races on Sept. 8, each with a $100,000 purse. With money like that up for grabs, it's no wonder Kentucky Downs boasts one of the highest average field sizes in the country. Turf horses migrate to Kentucky Downs from all over, but where do most of the Kentucky Downs winners invade from? It should be no surprise to handicappers that the most KD winners last raced at Saratoga (led all tracks with 16 KD winners). The next-best place to look for KD winners is with horses shipping from Ellis Park (11 winners). Arlington horses also do well at KD with 7 winning invaders. Other tracks that produce next-out Kentucky Downs winners include Indiana Grand, Delaware, and Del Mar. The horses arriving from those tracks tend to do better than the shippers from Gulfstream Park, Monmouth, Woodbine, Mountaineer and Europe/England. Kentucky Downs is not a haven for winning first-time starters. A total of only three races from 2016-17 were won by first-time starters. Due in large part of the field sizes, you can also expect large mutuel payoffs, because the two almost always go hand-in-hand. The national average of winning favorites always hovers around 30-33%, but at Kentucky Downs it's only 26%. On the other hand, however, you don't always want to shoot for the stars when betting Kentucky Downs longshots, either. That's because roughly 65-70% of Kentucky Downs races are won by one of the first four favorites. The Kentucky Downs season is here. Don't blink or else you'll miss it. Enjoy!   (c) Horsephotos.com