Kentucky Downs track update for Aug. 31

Profile Picture: Rowan Ward

August 31st, 2021

Kentucky Downs is a rare bird — a six-day, all-turf meet through the first half of September.

With the unique meet set to begin Sept. 5, let's check in on trends from last season.


Some jockeys have a knack for Kentucky Downs' winding, undulating turf, and finding them on longer-priced horses can be the key to a profitable September. Though most bettors know Florent Geroux, Julien Leparoux, and Jose Ortiz ride it well, they aren't the only riders worth watching.

In 2020, Tyler Gaffalione proved his mettle. He had 11 wins from 45 starts at the meet (24%), with a +31% flat-bet ROI. That included seven wins in sprints and four in routes. 

Looking specifically at routes, jockey Rafael Bejarano was sneaky last year, as he tied Gaffalione for route wins (four wins, 17 starts, 24%) and brought home a +211% ROI.


Mike Maker always points to Kentucky Downs. He led in wins last year (eight victories from 55 starts, 15%) and is always at or near the top of the trainer standings.

Maker also gets heavily bet. In 2020, he had a -45% ROI, despite all the wins, so make sure to select his horses carefully in wagers. 

Wesley Ward, second in wins for 2020 (seven victories from 30 starts, 23%) was a better bet, with a +10% ROI.

Oddly enough for a turf meet, Chad Brown offered a flat-bet ROI last year. He had three wins from seven starts (43%), with a +71% ROI. For a barn that gets overbet everywhere else, you can find value if he sends a horse to Kentucky Downs.

Kentucky Downs has a reputation for being unfriendly to first-time starters. Ward has run 12 over the last five years. Only one has won, but five finished second and another came in third. Only two trainers have more than one debut win over the last five years — Steve Asmussen (two wins from 17 starts, 12%, +58% ROI) and Brad Cox (two wins from eight starts, 25%, -25% ROI). Four barns have won with their lone first-timer over the last five years — Byron Hughes, Bryan Lynch, Shug McGaughey, and Laura Wohlers.

At a Glance

For more information about trends at tracks throughout the country, read the latest At a Glance reports only on Brisnet!