Kentucky Downs opens Wednesday


Delayed four days due to heavy rains, Kentucky Downs begins its five-day meet Wednesday with an excellent 10-race program featuring large fields and a quartet of lucrative stakes headlined by the $400,000 Tourist Mile. Ideal opening-day conditions are expected at the all-turf track in Franklin, Kentucky, which is located on the border with Tennessee, and Kentucky Downs offers the richest average daily purses in North America at $1.7 million a day.

First post is 1:25 p.m. (CDT), with live racing also scheduled for September 7, 9, 10 and 14, and an outstanding contingent of trainers and jockeys will be on the grounds along with many talented horses.

Renamed for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner, who captured the 2015 More Than Ready Mile at Kentucky Downs, the Tourist Mile drew a field of nine including multiple Grade 1-placed Shining Copper, former Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hootenanny, last-out stakes victor Western Reserve and Irish Strait, the 2-1 morning line favorite following a runner-up in the Monmouth Stakes (G2).

The $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile and $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies look like dynamite betting races. Contested at 7-furlongs, both races are oversubscribed with 16 entrants, including four also-eligibles, and the morning line favorites exiting races at Saratoga. Snapper Sinclair has been installed as the slight 7-2 choice in the Juvenile after rolling to a four-length debut score over maiden special weight rivals for Steve Asmussen. Best Performance, who heads the filly counterpart at 5-2, will look to transfer her strong main track form to turf following runner-up finishes in the Schuylerville (G3) and Astoria for Christophe Clement.

The $150,000 One Dreamer completes the opening-day stakes action with a full field of fillies and mares at a mile and 70 yards and Grade 3 One Dreamer is the one to beat. The 4-year-old filly was no match for Lady Eli in the Diana (G1) last time but ran a big race when second two back in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3), with third-placer Cambodia coming back to win the Yellow Ribbon (G2) and John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar.

Kentucky Downs has led the nation in average field size with almost 11 horses per race and has been ranked No. 1 for three years straight by the Horseplayers Association of North America. It has the lowest overall takeout in the country and a record $22,540,761.22 was wagered on last year’s five-date meet, a 34% increase over the previous record total set in 2015.